Dawn of "Total War" and the Surveillance State

Ruff, Allen

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/09/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21639

In its efforts to mobilize society for "total war," a still nascent corporate liberal state expanded its scope and authority and in doing so laid foundations and set precedents for the expansion of executive power and the rise of the national surveillance state.



Woodrow Wilson consistently set the national tone for what took place. In his December, 1915, Congressional call for military "preparedness," he stated that the "gravest threats" to the nation were coming from foreign-born U.S. citizens busy spreading "the poison of disloyalty" and that "...such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy" should be "crushed out."

In his April, 1917 Congressional message, in which he defined the U.S. war aim as the liberal interventionist mission to make the world "safe for democracy," he vowed that any "disloyalty" would meet with "a firm hand of stern repression." That June, he charged that "German masters" were using socialists and the "leaders of labor" and "employing liberals in their enterprise" to "undermine the Government."

The day war was declared and with anti-German hysteria already at a feverish pitch, Wilson resurrected the Alien Enemies Act, part of the "Alien and Sedition Acts" of 1798, to order the registration of all adult male German nationals. Broadened that fall, the measure barred all "enemy aliens" 14 years and older from places of "military importance" including Washington, D.C. and required them to seek permission to travel within the country or change residence.
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