Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Chapter 26: Age of Aquarius

Chapter 26: Age of Aquarius

The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy:

How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest


McDougall Book Jacket

The original draft of this book contained 172 pages of endnotes, which had to be shed in the name of economy. Thanks to the Internet, readers can access them here. Unfortunately, of course, the author had to substitute page and paragraph numbers for the original superscripts in the text, but in most cases it should be clear which sentences in a given paragraph match up with which sources.

Paragraphs appearing in their entirety on a single page are identified by the page number (e.g., p. 122). Paragraphs divided between two pages are identified by those pages (e.g., pp. 92-93). Paragraphs that share a page with another complete paragraph are identified by the page number and paragraph number (e.g., p. 103, ¶ 1).





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Chapter 26: Age of Aquarius:

291: P. J. O’Rourke, “The Awful Power of Make Believe,” in Peter Collier and David Horowitz, eds., Second Thoughts: Former Radicals Look Back at the Sixties (Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 1989), pp. 203-9.

291-92: Jerome D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (Boston: Little, Brown, 1951); Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image; or, What Happened to the American Dream (New York: Atheneum, 1962), reprinted by Harper & Row in 1964 with the damning subtitle A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Mother Night (New York: Delacorte, 1966).

292: “The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village”: Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1962), p. 43. Alfred E. Eckes, Jr., and Thomas W. Zeiler, Globalization and the American Economy (New York: Cambridge University, 2003), pp. 156-83 (quote, p. 165).

292-93: James A. Bill, George Ball: Behind the Scenes in U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven, Ct.: Yale University, 1997), pp. 130-35; Eckes and Zeiler, Globalization and the American Economy, pp. 156-83.

293: J. J. Servan-Schreiber, Le défi américain (Paris: Denoël, 1967); The American Challenge, Ronald Steel, trans. (New York: Atheneum, 1968). Stevenson used the words “miraculous” and “the basic miracle,” “a magic wand” and “fabulous” in describing American science and technology, thanks to which “our economy can grow to meet each new charge placed upon it.” Brzezinski speculated that “all inventions for a long time will be made in the U.S. because we are moving so fast in technology and large-scale efforts produce inventions.”  See Walter A. McDougall, …the Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (New York: Basic Books, 1985), pp. 407, 427.

294: The whole concept of “generations” in history is problematical for any number of reasons, but in this case the evidence of a colossal mental, behavioral gap across generations is overwhelming. See Neil Howe and William Strauss, Generations: The History of Americas Future, 1584 to 2069 (New York: William Morrow, 1991), pp. 299–316; and Steve Gillon, Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever, and How It Changed America (New York: Free Press, 2004), pp. 1-42. Youth who matured during the Vietnam War, the so-called Leading-Edge Baby Boomers, were born between 1946 and 1955 and numbered about 38 million.  Late or Trailing-Edge Boomers were born between 1956 and 1964 and numbered about 38 million.

295: Mark Oppenheimer, Knocking on Heaven’s Door: American Religion in the Age of Counterculture (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, 2003), pp. 1-28, argues that we have exaggerated the radicalism of sects, cults, communes, and Eastern religions in the Sixties. The vast majority of Americans who practiced religion in the decade continued to do so in conventional denominations, while the electorate turned conservative beginning in 1966.

295-96: Strauss and Howe, Generations, labels the Baby Boomers a Prophet generation on the order of the Transcendental (born 1792-1821) and Missionary (born 1863-1883) generations. I agree they served a prophetic function, but only in the civil religious sense because their self-indulgence, hedonism, and impatience made a stark contrast with Biblical ascetics such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and John the Baptist.

p.296: Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York: Bantam Books, 1987), pp. 435-36; Adam Garfinkle, Telltale Hearts: The Origins and Impact of the Vietnam Antiwar Movement (New York: St. Martin’s, 1995), pp. 1-6.

296-97: Rebecca J. Sheehan, “Liberation and Redemption in 1970s Rock Music,” in Niall Ferguson, Charles S. Maier, Erez Manela, Daniel J. Sargent, eds., The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2010). Sheehan describes the spirituality of the Sixties as preparation for the overt religiosity of the 1970s, when popular culture entertained vehicles such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, the evangelical movement picked up steam, and Bob Dylan was born again.

297-98: Tom Hayden, The Port Huron Statement: The Visionary Call of the 1960s Revolution (New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 2005), pp. 95-154 (quotes from pp. 6-7, 51-52, 95, 120, 127-29, 154).

298-99: Kennedy American University Address (June 10, 1963):

Kennedy’s speech writers certainly put golden words into his mouth.  For instance: “So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved.  And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.  For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.  We all breathe the same air.  We all cherish our children’s futures.  And we are all mortal.”  Jeffrey D. Sachs, To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (New York: Random House, 2013), lauds the American University speech, evidently not realizing how thoroughly the president’s “peace” rhetoric undercut his “pay any price” rhetoric.  Boomers may be excused their confusion.  See Godfrey Hodgson, America In Our Time (New York: Vintage, 1978), pp. 288-305.  Mario Savio and the FSM at Berkeley practiced such sophisticated street theater, manipulating university administrators, police, and media alike, that Hodgson titled this chapter “Telegraph Avenue, Son of Madison Avenue.”

299: Garfinkle, Telltale Hearts, p. 80; Todd Gitlin, The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America is Wracked by Culture Wars (New York: Metropolitan, 1995), pp. 67-79 (quote p. 69). See also Robert Jewett, The Captain America Complex: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1973), and Thomas Engelhardt, The End of Victory Culture: Cold War American and the Disillusioning of a Generation (New York: Basic Books, 1995).

pp 299-300: On clerical activity during the Vietnam War see Andrew Preston, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (New York: Oxford University, 2012), pp. 501-38; Raymond Haberski, Jr., God and War: American Civil Religion Since 1945 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 2012), pp. 55-97.  Preston thinks clerical opposition to the war “hindered Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to justify it to the public” (p. 502), but offers no evidence for this judgment.  David E. Settje, Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars (New York: NYU, 2011), studied the journals of mainline denominations and found them mostly behind the war until the very end.  Robert Jewett, Mission and Menace: Four Centuries of American Religious Zeal (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008), pp. 273-78, estimates that 95 percent of all clergy actively or passively supported the war.  Relativism swept mainstream theology in the 1950s and 1960s.  For instance, the bestseller by Anglican Bishop John A. T. Robinson, Honest to God (London: SCM, 1963), argued that a secular society required a “secular theology,” that Paul Tillich’s existentialist theology must be substituted for tradition, that God’s “continuing revelation” is found in social progress, and that “situational ethics” must replace moral absolutes.  The bestseller by Harvey Cox, The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective (New York: Macmillan, 1965) argued against any notion of Jesus’s otherworldliness as inhibiting belief in “God’s permanent revelation in history.”  On the crisis of faith generally, see George M. Marsden, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief (New York: Basic Books, 2014).  Most mainstream mid-twentieth-century American thinkers “took for granted human evolution and cultural evolution that shaped human beliefs and mores.  They believed that societies developed their own laws, rather than discovering them in the fixed order of things….  When the consensus culture collapsed in the 1960s and 1970s, taking with it all but the vestiges of the old Protestant establishment, that collapse initiated, among other things, a religious crisis” (pp. xxv-xxvi).

300-1: Garfinkle, Telltale Hearts, pp. 118-48 (quotes, pp. 118-19, 121, 124-25); Gitlin quote in Alexander Bloom and Wini Brienes, eds., Takin’ it to the Streets: A Sixties Reader (New York: Oxford University, 1995), p. 456. The term wormhole was coined by Princeton physicist John Archibald Wheeler in 1957.

301: Paul Goodman, Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized Society (New York: Random House 1960). Goodman was among the first to spy in the Sixties a “New Reformation” insofar as the New Left was trying to satisfy a vague but real spiritual hunger. “Religiously, the young have been inventive, much more than the God-is-dead theologians….  In the end it is religion that constitutes the strength of this generation” (“The New Reformation,” in Irving Howe, ed., Beyond the New Left <New York: McCall Publishing, 1970>, pp. 320-21).

301-2: Robert N. Bellah, “Civil Religion in America,” Daedalus 96, no. 1 (Winter 1967): 1-21, reprinted in Russell E. Richey and Donald G. Jones, eds., American Civil Religion (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), pp. 21-44 (quotes pp. 33, 36, 38, 40).

302: As described in Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History (New York: New American Library, 1968). Jason W. Stevens, God-Fearing and Free: A Spiritual History of America’s Cold War (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2010), pp. 299-310, believes Mailer imagined himself “the Jeremiah of our time” and a “religious revolutionary” who broods on America. In his 1965 book American Dream Mailer invokes two “cosmic superpowers” vying for the soul of the book’s hero Rojack.  One must be God and the other the Devil, but what if “sometimes one must league with the Devil in order to serve God”?  Thus did Mailer echo the Christian Realism of Niebuhr.  But his own point, of course, is that the United States and Soviet Union were both enemies and God was on neither side.

302-3: Christian G. Appy, Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides (New York: Viking, 2003), pp. 265-267; Gitlin, The Sixties, p. 335: “As unpopular as the war had become, the antiwar movement was detested still more – the most hated political group in America, disliked even by most of the people who supported immediately withdrawal from Vietnam.”

303-4: Roger Kimball, Tenured Radicals: How Politics has Corrupted Our Higher Education (New York: Harper & Row, 1990).

304, ¶ 1: Todd Gitlin, The Intellectuals and the Flag (New York: Columbia University, 2005), pp. 125-157 (quote p. 135); Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).


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