A hazy picture is beginning to emerge in my mind. The picture is this: America, the Protestant Empire, has always been opposed to things Catholic. The opposition used to be explicit: the KKK hated Catholics and Jews, as well as blacks. In the twentieth century, such bigotry became unfashionable, so it largely went underground. But I think it’s still there, in the sense that America intuitively dislikes latent Catholicism. Even many American Catholics intuitively dislike Catholicism (which is probably why American Catholics tend to ignore Church teachings, but that’s a theological/pastoral matter, not a political one).
By “latent Catholicism,” I mean things that grew in the Catholic Middle Ages or developed from a Catholic sensibility. Many of the things aren’t even explicitly Catholic, but that knee-jerk dislike is still there, like our derision of monarchy and our dislike of authority in general. And I think it even might apply to economic things, like the gold standard (metaphysically, gold is the money of monarchy, whereas fiat money is the currency of democracies . . . more on that some other time). The free market itself grew up in the Middle Ages, without the interference of central authorities (kings) who had much (much, much) shorter arms than the long-reaching tentacles of the central authorities today.
Like I said, this is a hazy picture that I’m developing. It’s not complete and is subject to correction, maybe even downright reversal at some point.
But Hans-Hermann Hoppe added some substance to this picture. At the time that the U.S. took its greatest strides toward the modern economy (with the advent of the Federal Reserve and the income tax) and away from Middle Ages leftovers like the gold standard, Woodrow Wilson was our leader. And Wilson didn’t like Catholicism, as evidenced by his attitude during WWI:
Wilson and his closest foreign policy advisors, George D. Herron and Colonel House, disliked the Germany of the Kaiser, the aristocracy, and the military elite. But they hated Austria. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn has characterized the view of Wilson and the American Left, “Austria was far more wicked than Germany. It existed in contradiction of the Mazzinian principle of the national state, it had inherited many traditions as well as symbols from the Holy Roman Empire (double-headed eagle, black-gold colors, etc.); its dynasty had once ruled over Spain (another bete noire); it had led the Counter-Reformation, headed the Holy Alliance, fought against the Risorgimento, suppressed the Magyar rebellion under Kossuth (who had a monument in New York City), and morally supported the monarchical experiment in Mexico. Habsburg–the very name evoked memories of Roman Catholicism, of the Armada, the Inquisition, Metternich, Lafayette jailed at Olmutz, and Silvio Pellico in Brunn’s Spielberg fortress. Such a state had to be shattered, such a dynasty had to disappear.