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Lead this people into war and theyll forget there was ever such athing as tolerance To fight you must be brutal and ruthless andthe spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fiber ofnational life infecting the Congress the courts the policeman onthe beat the man in the street It is one of historys great ironies that Woodrow Wilson who was re- elected as apeace candidate in 1916 led America into the first world war With the help of apropaganda apparatus that was unparalleled in world history Wilson forged a nation ofimmigrants into a fighting whole An examination of public opinion before the warpropaganda efforts during the war and the endurance of propaganda in peacetime raisessignificant questions about the viability of democracy as a governing principle Like an undertow Americas drift toward war was subtle and forceful Accordingto the outspoken pacifist Randolph Bourne war sentiment spread gradually amongvarious intellectual groups With the aid of Roosevelt wrote Bourne the murmursbecame a monotonous chant and finally a chorus so mighty that to be out of it was at firstto be disreputable and finally almost obscene Once the war was underway dissent waspractically impossible If you believed our going into this war was a mistake wrote The Nation in a post-war editorial if you held as President Wilson did early in 1917 that theideal outcome would be peace without victory you were a traitor Forced to stand quietly on the sidelines while their neighbors stampeded towards war many pacifistswould have agreed with Bertrand Russell that the greatest difficulty was the purely psychological one of resisting mass suggestion of which the force becomes terrific whenthe whole nation is in a state of violent collective excitement This frenzied support for the war was particularly remarkable in light of the factthat Wilsons re-election had been widely interpreted as a vote for peace After all
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