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The New International, October 1942

Eugene Vaughan

Books in Review

A Cry for Imperialism


From New International, Vol. VIII No. 9, October 1942, pp. 286–287.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


America and World Mastery
by John J. MacCormack
Duell, Sloan & Pearce, Publishers, New York; 338 pp., $2.75

This book, as one can gather from its title, deals with a question which at the present time is uppermost in the minds of the politically conscious. What future is in store for the United States, the centrifugal center of the Allied camp, and what sort of society is in store for the world at large? As such, this analysis would merit serious consideration were it not for the lugubrious treatment of the problem presented by the author.

MacCormack, a newspaper correspondent turned political scientist by the exigencies of the war, presents a crassly pragmatic and unprincipled analysis of the United States in World War II.

A thesis that imperialist United States with imperialist Britain as a second-rate partner are the only logical heirs to world mastery, may be accounted for on the ground of ignorance of political facts. The theorist may have overlooked the potentialities of the labor movement in the United States, the teeming masses of India and China in their struggles for freedom, the labor movement in England, the growing resentment of the South American millions toward Yankee imperialism. The thinker may have overlooked the third camp of labor that spreads itself far and wide over the four corners of the earth. But to insist that the United States and Britain should dominate the world in the name of all that is right and holy is nothing less than wishful thinking. “Better than no world order, is a world governed by two strong nations.”

Why does he insist, however, upon domination by the United States and Britain? “Because one cannot imagine England or America using such a system to enslave the world, but one can imagine that of another nation.” There you have the crux of the argument. With a sweep of the pen, MacCormack does away with British enslavement of the Indians and the American abuse of Central America. His views, completely nationalist, devoid of knowledge of social forces, can only see a world dominated by one or another power – but this power must be American.

MacCormack tries to sell the American ruling class the idea, as if they are not already sold on it, that they should come out of their isolationist shell and rule the world. In doing this, he bunches together “historical materialism,” the “New Order,” “the American way of life” and what have you. The book abounds in contradictions, half-truths and sentimentalities. Like the fundamentalist who proves creation by reference to the Bible, MacCormack proves that America and Britain should rule the world by reference to such sentimentalities as “the English-speaking people” and “the Anglo-Saxon family.” “But for the English-speaking people it would mean the loss of their last opportunity to create a world safe for their kind,” i.e., if the United States refused to rule with Britain as a partner.

”The two economies,” claims our writer, “are complementary in important respects: From the United States the British Empire obtains cotton, tobacco, petroleum, refined oil, steel and iron, electrical and industrial machinery, copper, autos, chemicals. From the British Empire the United States obtains rubber, tin, pulp, paper, nickel, wool.” While it is true that in some important respects the two economies are complementary, it is more true that in many decisive respects they are contradictory.

In his own word, “her (U.S.) investments with the British Empire at the beginning of 1940 constituted nearly 42 per cent of her total foreign holdings.” In other words, British capital had been squeezed out of its own wallowing grounds just that much. What is more, he is conscious of the Mexican oil wars between Britain and the United States, the struggle between British and American imperialism in China, the rubber wars of the twenties. Furthermore, an argument of this nature assumes a static society. But with the expansion of American capital investment in Australia, Canada and even India, with the development of rubber plantations to take the place of bananas in Central America, with the development of Bolivian tin and tin smelteries in Texas, even those elements of the two economies which were at one time complementary will become more and more contradictory.

Will these two imperial camps remain compatible in the future even if they do manage to dominate the world? It is already clear that in this decayed stage of capitalism one or the other must dominate any bloc, political, economic or military. And it is not difficult to ascertain that it is the United States which has obtained hegemony over the United Nations.

Like many other people our author insists that this is a democratic war: a war waged between the Anglo-Saxon way of life, and the Teutonic totalitarian way of life. Yet, hidden among the welter of words we find the following passage: “In 1936–37–38 Germany supplied respectively, 15.4, 15.3 and 17.1 per cent of Latin American purchases. From 1936, Germany, not Britain, was her (U.S.) chief competitor.” Thus, the author provides a glimpse into the sharp economic rivalry which exists between the United States and Germany and which is the essence of the great conflict.

“If there will be no Anglo-American alliance, then there will perforce be an Anglo-German alliance (after the war), not with Nazi Germany, but with a Germany blood purged of the apostles of that diabolical scheme.” This of course would be bad in the opinion of the author. But if one must assume that an alliance is necessary to control the post-war order, what is wrong with an alliance between democratic Britain and peace-loving Germany to rule the world benevolently, if it is world peace and benevolence for which the present slaughter is being waged?

What sort of world does our author foresee? Of course, he pays lip service to the “New Order” by equating communist Russia and fascist Germany. He predicts a “New Order” for the world with a dash of a new and better League of Nations – to begin again the bungling leading to new wars. In the same breath he also adds: “It would be the instinct of the English people to maintain a Germany strong enough to act as a counterweight to Russia.”

“Freedom of the seas is a policy for a weak trading nation. The United States will have the biggest navy in the world.” It would therefore be against American interest to advocate freedom of the seas after the war. There we have the same old rot: power politics and military alliances post-war preparations for new wars.

America and World Mastery does not present a new thesis. It is an additional effort by a large section of American intellectuals to take the lead in preparing the ideological ground for a new American imperialism.

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