The Committee on Public Information
The reasons for war are seldom what the history books declare. The American Civil War was not entered into as a struggle to end slavery. Abraham Lincoln is frequently touted as “the Great Emancipator,” yet his own words reveal that abolishing slavery was not upon his mind when he set the Union on a course for war with the South. Although numerous statements by Lincoln reveal that he considered slavery to be a moral evil, at the same time he stated that he believed it outside of his rights, or power, to abolish it.
I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that ‘I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.’
[Source: Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861]
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.
[Source: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, “Letter to Horace Greeley” (August 22, 1862), p. 388]
Why was Lincoln so driven to preserve the Union? Even without the Southern states, the North was far larger in territory and population than the original thirteen colonies of the founding fathers of America. At the time the war was fought there were thirty-four states, and the nation had expanded ever westward toward the Pacific Ocean. There were vast swaths of land that had not yet been settled.
The authors of Lincoln’s Wrath suggest that Lincoln was inspired by a vision of America as a mighty nation that would rival Great Britain. Standing in the way of this national vision was the very form of America’s union as a voluntary confederation of independent states. Lincoln saw a need for a powerful federal government to not only bind the country together, but to bring a unanimity to her policies and to the projection of her power in the world. The Civil War was largely a struggle between states’ rights and a powerful federal government that exercised dominion over the states. Lincoln was ultimately successful in his aim of creating a powerful federal government that would dictate its will to the states. In the process he greatly expanded the powers of the president. Such actions would have elicited the anger of men like Thomas Jefferson who believed in a limited federal government.
From the perspective of one who is a disciple of Christ, struggles over federal power versus states’ rights seem inconsequential. The kingdom of God is not helped, nor hindered, by the nationalistic ambitions of men. The church was born when the Roman Empire held sway over much of the world. The church has experienced periods of peace where it was unmolested, and ages of great persecution. Christianity has flourished under kingdoms, dictatorships, democracies, and communism. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy the following words:
II Timothy 2:4
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
Partisan politics, and national ambitions certainly belong to “the affairs of everyday life.” It was not the Spirit of Christ that inspired men like Abraham Lincoln to engage in a war that would ultimately result in the violent deaths of more than 600,000 men, and the maiming of a great many more. Men of baser motives, who are focused on earthly kingdoms, have often found profit in warfare. Whatever Lincoln’s motives were, he would have been unable to execute his war apart from the support and complicity of bankers, munitions manufacturers, railroad tycoons, and an array of other merchants and industrialists.
In the writing Robber Barons, Revolution, and Social Control, Andrew Gavin Marshall shares the following:
The Civil War (1861-1865) served several purposes. First of all, the immediate economic considerations: the Civil War sought to create a single economic system for America, driven by the Eastern capitalists in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, uniting with the West against the slave-labour South. The aim was not freedom for black slaves, but rather to end a system which had become antiquated and unprofitable. With the Industrial Revolution driving people into cities and mechanizing production, the notion of slavery lost its appeal: it was simply too expensive and time consuming to raise, feed, house, clothe and maintain slaves; it was thought more logical and profitable (in an era obsessed with efficiency) to simply pay people for the time they engage in labour. The Industrial Revolution brought with it the clock, and thus time itself became a commodity. As slavery was indicative of human beings being treated as commodities to be bought and sold, owned and used, the Industrial Revolution did not liberate people from servitude and slavery, it simply updated the notions and made more efficient the system of slavery: instead of purchasing people, they would lease them for the time they can be ‘productive.’
I believe there is much truth in these words. America has always been ruled by a moneyed aristocracy. If the robber barons, the bankers, and financial powers of the nation had not found it in their interests to engage in a bloody civil war, Lincoln could not have engaged in such a conflict. If the money interests, the great corporate trusts, had not found Lincoln’s aims to be in harmony with their own, the war would never have taken place.
As we saw in a previous chapter, this has ever been the state of things. The men who signed The Declaration of Independence, and who met to hammer out a national Constitution, derived great personal profit from the Revolution. Out of necessity the profit takers must induce the masses to join with them. Deception and violence are two of the chief methods of assuring the compliance of the masses. The reason a particular war is fought is pitched to the public as if all is being done in their own interests. The benefit to accrue to a moneyed elite is glossed over, and if possible, completely hidden.
As America has aged the government’s methods for securing the compliance of the public have become much more sophisticated. The year 1917 saw war looming once more for America. World War I in Europe was taking place, and the majority of Americans strongly opposed entry into the war. There were corporate and political interests, however, who favored entry. Among them were the House of Morgan (J.P. Morgan), and weapons manufacturers who saw the potential to profit should America enter the war.
The pro-war advocates realized that American opinion needed to change to effect entry into the war, and this required the control of free speech so that only opinions in favor of war would be heard. The Espionage Act was passed by Congress in 1917. It prescribed a $10,000 fine, and twenty years in prison, for interfering with military operations, or with the recruitment of troops. If a citizen, or newspaper, publicly criticized American involvement in the war they faced severe penalties.
President Woodrow Wilson in his State of the Union address delivered on December 7, 1915, asked Congress for the legislation. He stated:
There are citizens of the United States … who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to ring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt… to destroy our industries… and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue…. We are without adequate federal laws…. I am urging you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out.
Wilson asked Congress to pass a law that would provide for censorship of the press. He submitted legislation for their consideration that incorporated such censorship, stating, “Authority to exercise censorship over the press … is absolutely necessary to the public safety.”
I am confident that it was not “the public safety” that President Wilson was actually concerned with. Rather, it was the interests of the money trusts, such as the Rockefeller’s, Morgan, Carnegie, and others. These are the ones who were being criticized in the press, and who stood to benefit the most by entry into the war.
Congress voted down censorship of the press by only one vote, 39 to 38. Nevertheless, when entry into the war was secured in 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act which effectively gave the government power to censor the press and imprison citizens who spoke in opposition to the policies of the government. The Espionage Act of 1917 made it a crime:
To convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies. This was punishable by death or by imprisonment for not more than 30 years or both.
To convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies when the United States is at war, to cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or to willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States. This was punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 20 years or both.
The Act also gave the Postmaster General authority to impound or to refuse to mail publications that he determined to be in violation of its prohibitions.
The restrictions to speech were extended in the Sedition Act of 1918. Among the prohibitions added were “any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States… or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy.”
The Espionage Act was no idle threat. In a period of months more than 900 people were sent to prison. Additionally, a number of newspapers and magazines were forced out of business as the government forbade them to use the postal service to distribute their anti-war writings.
An example of the governmental intolerance of any contrary opinion to America’s involvement in the war in Europe is seen in the experience of Eugene Debs. Debs was a union organizer and a political candidate for the Socialist Party in America. Although the majority of Americans have come to equate Socialism with Communism, Debs was not a communist supporter, and was very critical of the actions of the Communist Party in Russia which utilized violent and destructive methods to secure their aims. On June 12th, 1918, Debs gave a speech in Canton, Ohio, after which he was arrested and charged with violating the Espionage Act. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. Following is the speech he gave. Debs clearly understood that there was an American aristocracy of the moneyed classes who exploited the poor by fomenting wars.
One website provides the following information on the suppression of free speech in America by the government through use of the Espionage Act.
A teenage girl was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment for criticizing the war. A Californian was sentenced to jail for laughing at rookies drilling on San Francisco’s Presidio. A New Yorker received ninety days for spitting on the sidewalk near some Italian officers. Numerous ministers and college professors were dismissed because of their opposition to American entrance into the war. Frederick C. Howe, Commissioner of Immigration at the Port of New York, related how thousands of Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians were taken without trial from their homes and brought to Ellis Island. When he tried to secure decent treatment for the aliens, he was branded as pro-German…
Besides the congressional actions which curbed civil rights, A. R. Burleson, the Postmaster General, instituted a censorship which denied mailing privileges to “subversive” publications. A magazine The Masses was denied mailing privileges on the grounds that it contained treasonable passages. But when the publisher offered to delete the passages, Burleson refused to identify them. Judge Learned Hand of the federal court overruled Burleson whereupon the Postmaster General banned the magazine on the grounds that because it had missed an issue during the dispute, it was no longer eligible for second class mailing privileges.
In these actions we see evidence of the unseen hand that guides the government. The citizens of the nation are ruled by an elite that seeks to remain hidden, and to use the powers of the government to accomplish their desires. By controlling the media, and limiting speech, they found a means to move the masses in the direction they desired.
Shaping the minds of the American populace rose to new and staggering heights during World War I. In 1917 President Wilson created the Committee on Public Information. The CPI was created to mold the opinions of American citizens who were opposed to entry to World War I.
Poster Created by the CPI
Following is a summary of the activities of the CPI.
The absence of public unity was a primary concern when America entered the war on April 6, 1917. In Washington, unwavering public support was considered to be crucial to the entire wartime effort. On April 13, 1917, Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI) to promote the war domestically while publicizing American war aims abroad. Under the leadership of a muckraking journalist named George Creel, the CPI recruited heavily from business, media, academia, and the art world. The CPI blended advertising techniques with a sophisticated understanding of human psychology, and its efforts represent the first time that a modern government disseminated propaganda on such a large scale. It is fascinating that this phenomenon, often linked with totalitarian regimes, emerged in a democratic state.
Although George Creel was an outspoken critic of censorship at the hands of public servants, the CPI took immediate steps to limit damaging information. Invoking the threat of German propaganda, the CPI implemented “voluntary guidelines” for the news media and helped to pass the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. The CPI did not have explicit enforcement power, but it nevertheless “enjoyed censorship power which was tantamount to direct legal force…”
Censorship was only one element of the CPI’s efforts. With all the sophistication of a modern advertising agency, the CPI examined the different ways that information flowed to the population and flooded these channels with pro-war material. The CPI’s domestic division was composed of 19 sub-divisions, and each focused on a particular type of propaganda…
One of the most important elements of the CPI was the Division of News… According to Creel, on any given week, more than 20,000 newspaper columns were filled with material gleaned from CPI handouts. Realizing that many Americans glided right past the front page and headed straight for the features section, the CPI also created the Division of Syndicated Features and recruited the help of leading novelists, short story writers, and essayists. These popular American writers presented the official line in an easily digestible form, and their work was said to have reached twelve million people every month…
The CPI did not limit its promotional efforts to the written word. The Division of Pictorial Publicity “had at its disposal many of the most talented advertising illustrators and cartoonists of the time,” and these artists worked closely with publicity experts in the Advertising Division. Newspapers and magazines eagerly donated advertising space, and it was almost impossible to pick up a periodical without encountering CPI material. Powerful posters, painted in patriotic colors, were plastered on billboards across the country…
Moving images were even more popular than still ones, and the Division of Films ensured that the war was promoted in the cinema.
CPI propaganda typically appealed to the heart, not to the mind. Emotional agitation is a favorite technique of the propagandist, because “any emotion may be ‘drained off’ into any activity by skillful manipulation.” An article which appeared in Scientific Monthly shortly after the war argued that “the detailed suffering of a little girl and her kitten can motivate our hatred against the Germans, arouse our sympathy for Armenians, make us enthusiastic for the Red Cross, or lead us to give money for a home for cats.” Wartime slogans such as “Bleeding Belgium,” “The Criminal Kaiser,” and “Make the World Safe For Democracy,” suggest that the CPI was no stranger to this idea. Evidence of this technique can be seen in a typical propaganda poster that portrayed an aggressive, bayonet-wielding German soldier above the caption “Beat Back The Hun With Liberty Bonds.” In this example, the emotions of hate and fear were redirected toward giving money to the war effort…
A second propaganda technique used by the CPI was demonization of the enemy. “So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern nations,” wrote Lasswell “that every war must appear to be a war of defense against a menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about who the public is to hate…”
A particularly effective strategy for demonizing Germans was the use of atrocity stories. “A handy rule for arousing hate,” said Lasswell “is, if at first they do not enrage, use an atrocity. It has been employed with unvarying success in every conflict known to man.” Unlike the pacifist, who argues that all wars are brutal, the atrocity story implies that war is only brutal when practiced by the enemy. Certain members of the CPI were relatively cautious about repeating unsubstantiated allegations, but the committee’s publications often relied on dubious material. After the war, Edward Bernays, who directed CPI propaganda efforts in Latin America, openly admitted that his colleagues used alleged atrocities to provoke a public outcry against Germany. Some of the atrocity stories which were circulated during the war, such as the one about a tub full of eyeballs, or the story of the seven-year old boy who confronted German soldiers with a wooden gun, were actually recycled from previous conflicts. In his seminal work on wartime propaganda, Lasswell speculated that atrocity stories will always be popular because the audience is able to feel self-righteous indignation toward the enemy, and, at some level, identify with the perpetrators of the crimes. “A young woman, ravished by the enemy,” he wrote “yields secret satisfaction to a host of vicarious ravishers on the other side of the border…”
Emotional appeals and simplistic caricatures of the enemy influenced many Americans, but the CPI recognized that certain social groups had more complex propaganda needs. In order to reach intellectuals and pacifists, the CPI claimed that military intervention would bring about a democratic League of Nations and end warfare forever. With other social groups, the CPI modified its arguments, and interpreted the war as “a conflict to destroy the threat of German industrial competition (business group), to protect the American standard of living (labor), to remove certain baneful German influences in our education (teachers), to destroy German music – itself a subtle propaganda (musicians), to preserve civilization, ‘we’ and `civilization’ being synonymous (nationalists), to make the world safe for democracy, crush militarism, [and] establish the rights of small nations et al. (religious and idealistic groups)…”
Finally, like most propagandists, the CPI was frequently dishonest. Despite George Creel’s claim that the CPI strived for unflinching accuracy, many of his employees later admitted that they were quite willing to lie. Will Irwin, an ex-CPI member who published several confessional pieces after the war, felt that the CPI was more honest than other propaganda ministries, but made it clear that “we never told the whole truth – not by any manner of means.” Citing an intelligence officer who bluntly said “you can’t tell them the truth,” G.S Viereck argued that, as on all fronts, victories were routinely manufactured by American military authorities. The professional propagandist realizes that, when a single lie is exposed, the entire campaign is jeopardized. Dishonesty is discouraged, but on strategic, not moral, grounds.
It should be obvious to perceptive Christians that the government is operating by Satanic principles when it creates an agency to mold public opinion through the deliberate use of lies and deception. The end justifies the means in the minds of the unscrupulous.
Consider what is revealed in the formation of the Committee for Public Information. There exists an elite group that perceives the need to manipulate the masses in order to gain their support. During World War I a vast amount of resources were enlisted for the sole purpose of shaping public opinion to a form that the money powers found to be harmonious to their own aims. By lies, half-truths, deliberate deception, biased reporting, and emotion stirring images, the unseen hand guiding the government was able to secure the cooperation and support of the American public.
Although I have frequently made mention of the acts and words of those who are disciples of Satan, what I would stress in this series is that there is a spiritual hand behind even these human agents of both the visible and invisible governments. Satan is the ruler of this world, and he deceives the nations. As one looks at the history of America’s wars one can see a plan being advanced to bring the entire world under a single government.
One of the deceits used to sell involvement in the Great War to Americans was that a “League of Nations” would arise out of this conflict, and the combined might of these nations would prevent other countries from inciting conflicts in the future. The League of Nations, however, proved to be weak and ineffectual, as just two decades later the world again descended into war. Out of World War II the United Nations was formed. This body was granted more power than the insipid League of Nations, but it still has no dominant authority over sovereign nations. The U.N.’s power is not unlike that of the United States government over the individual states prior to the Civil War.
With each conflict a stronger central power has been put in place. The stage is being set for a global government where Satan will be the head. There remains yet one more global war. Then we will see that which was birthed in the League of Nations, and brought to adolescence in the United Nations, come to maturity in the New World Order. It is amazing to consider how effective Satan has been in selling these wars to Christians. Multitudes have embraced and supported these conflicts, little understanding how their support was furthering the plans of the great deceiver. Few have ever discerned the true reasons that wars have been fought, nor have they identified those who have truly profited from such violence and bloodshed.
League of Nations Cartoon from World War I
As a parable, the above image reveals a lot. Satan, the serpent of old, foments international strife in order to advance his plans of bringing all the nations of the world under one government. Babylon will rise again as all men are united in common purpose under a single leader.
The cunning of Satan has sold this plan even to the churches of Christ. He has through cunning and deception induced myriads of the sons and daughters of God to entangle themselves in the affairs of this world. A rampant patriotism has infected the churches even as it did during the Civil War when ministers from North and South all proclaimed that they were fighting God’s war, and God was on their side. Christians went forth to slaughter their brothers in Christ, being blinded by the god of this world.
As another great conflict now lies at the doorstep of the nations, Satan will once more deceive the masses. Included among the deceived will be the majority of Christians who have little spiritual discernment.
II Corinthians 11:3
I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
Are you even at this moment drinking of the flood of propaganda that Satan is steadily pouring forth? Do you have a divine perspective of the conflict of the ages, or are you blinded by terrestrial views?
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