THE IMPERIAL REPUBLIC: Speculations on the Future, if any, of the Third U.S.A. by Gerald W. Johnson

THE IMPERIAL REPUBLIC: Speculations on the Future, if any, of the Third U.S.A.

Email this review


The epitome of the American roll-top scholar, Gerald W. Johnson, bless him, is still wearing his drear Wilsonian vest as if it were the height of fashion; he's still declaiming calmative reason and sweet logic amid the Ostrogoths and neo-radicals; in short, he's still campaigning for the 14 points. In this slight albeit intense essay, Johnson argues that since the end of World War II this nation, like it or not, has become an empire and that instead of resisting or ignoring this political truth, we should begin seriously considering the more crucial question of ""how, if at all, can we wield imperial power in a fashion that will not bring down upon us the just wrath of all mankind?"" The American empire, Johnson contends, must quickly find the political will and sagacity to transform moribund nationalism into responsible imperialism based on moral, not military, hegemony -- a historically unique opportunity which he equates with the Founding Fathers' challenge of creating a workable democracy (also a dirty word at the time) after the 1776 Revolution discarded monarchy. Johnson is, like his longtime hero Woodrow Wilson, a man of genuinely estimable ideals and goodwill, but his arguments, like Wilson's policies, emphasize political morality at the expense of economic realities. This is a mistake: careful reading of historians like Beard and more recently William Appleman Williams makes clear that American expansion (or empire) has been largely fueled by the search for profits, and any discussion of U.S. imperialism which avoids this gravamen is both ingenuous and tangential.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Liveright