Friday, May 29, 2015

Roots of Globalism

William Gilpin

We welcome back author and independent scholar from Sweden Theo Berigsen. He has written an essay about the lost historical figure, William Gilpin.  In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln appointed William Gilpin to be territorial governor of Colorado. Thus began the career of a remarkable and controversial thinker who is one of the fathers of globalism. His theories of centralized authority formed part of Lincoln's brain-trust and drove the consolidation of the South and the frontier West into one national unit.

Some writers have accused Gilpin of racism; a Eurocentric white supremacy. However, research shows that he was no more or less a racist that his sponsor Abraham Lincoln and the Northeasten interests that supported Gilpin's career.

Along with his contemporary, Karl Marx, Gilpin is certainly one of the thinkers who facilitated the internationalist concept of global empire ruled by elites. Today Gilpin would be at home with Silicon Valley technocrats, trans-national corporations, and contemporary globalists in the academic world. -ed-



The most famous expression of the heliotropic myth in relation to America was the lines by the British philosopher George Berkeley (written in 1726, but not published until 1752), Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way). Thus an element of civilizational thinking was introduced into the American dream. A German journalist, E.M. Posselt, in 1794 wrote that a new force was rising in the West, and that like an oak on a lonesome mountain, the force would grow and probably in a few generations be the arbiter of world events.

That mythology now became interwoven with Israel (America as Israel of the West). Later Herman Melville (White Jacket) would write:

"Escaped from the house of bondage, Israel of old did not follow after the ways of the Egyptians. To her was given an express dispensation; to her were given new things under the sun. And we Americans are the peculiar, chosen people - the Israel of our time: we bear the ark of the liberties of the world...God has predestined, mankind expects, great things from our race; and great things we feel in our souls."

America was to be a "city on the hill" as expressed in Mathew 5:14 ("A city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid"; note also the statement of John Winthrop in 1630 to a small band of pilgrims: "We shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us."). Also the wilderness became the center in which human beings found divine inspiration and rose above themselves.

The belief in the rise of the United States was expressed by the nineteenth century painter Thomas Cole in his five large paintings The Course of Empire although the cyclical depiction of history should be regarded as a warning, not necessarily a description of the United States moving in the direction of destruction and desolation.

In 2003 the United States was celebrating the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country's territory. Some observers claim that the United States then already became an empire. It directed, however, the American view westward, to the Pacific Ocean not eastward, back to its European roots. This is important to remember, as we move further into the interpretation of the United States as the completion of civilization in the West as expressed by William Gilpin. (This author is avoiding the term empire to describe the United States after 1991 as the term remind of the pejorative "imperialism", lately of Marxist origin. Hegemon seems to be the preferable term)

William Gilpin

Territorial Governor William Gilpin (1813-1894) is widely believed to have been America’s first geopolitician and globalist. This nineteenth century writer, politician, and landowner in the West was also a civilizationalist with the vision that America would link Europe and Asia in ideas and commerce. Spreading the dream of self-government around the world America was the final civilization. Gilpin, to some extent drawing upon Alexander von Humboldt’s multivolume work, Cosmos, identified the “Isothermal Zodiac”.

It was a belt across the globe with a width around the globe of thirty degrees across the Northern Hemisphere. It passed through the oceans at their narrowest, and the continents at their widest points. The “Zodiac” was an “Axis of Intensity”. Within this axis had emerged the greatest cities and the highest civilizations. Gilpin believed that America would extend its democracy, its harmony, and its progress to the rest of the world. (to see Gilpin's Zodiac map-CLICK HERE)

Gilpin was a man of the westward movement of the United States. The West was a glorious place, so believed Gilpin, in which to live. It was only by developing that region that the American nation could fulfill the role given by God. America would link Europe and Asia in ideas and commerce. Thus the dream of self-government would be spread around the world.

Comparative civilizations and geopolitics is to a certain extent linked and Gilpin could be seen both as a comparative civilizationist and geopolitician. He was first described as the latter in an article by Bernard De Voto. 1)

"The great westerner Gilpin was born into a post-Revolutionary home in the East, which was very cultured but his career was in the West. The geopolitician and civilizationist first caught attention with a letter on Oregon written to Senator David Atchison, who included it in a report of the Senate Committee of Post Office and Roads. The Senate was so impressed that it printed the letter in 3,000 extra copies. Gilpin wrote:“Oregon is the maritime wing of the Mississippi Valley upon the Pacific as New England is on the Atlantic”

About the postal routes, he believed it should be extended from California to the Sandwich Islands and China. The mighty agriculture and commerce of the United States would benefit but also over 600 million people of the Pacific would benefit. As a result of the letter American media in 1846 and 1847 often referred too Mississippi and Oregon offering greater riches than those of the Ganges, the Nile and other ancient civilizations. 2)
“The untransacted destiny of the American people ….is to animate the many hundred of its peoples … to set the principle of self-government at work – to agitate these herculean masses -…to set free the enslaved – to regenerate superannuated nations-…to confirm the destiny of the human race-..Divine mission! Immortal mission” 3)

Toward the end of his life Gilpin published The Cosmopolitan Railway, Compacting and Fusing Together all the World’s Continents (1890), in which can be found his “American Economic, Just and Correct Map of the World”. The Isothermal Axis is reproduced on the map with Gilpin’s Cosmopolitan Railway running north of the axis in Eurasia and south of the axis following the west and east coasts of South America. One can start the axis in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia following it via ancient Greece and Rome cross the European continent. Then across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States (the heliotropic movement). This would exclude from the movement Indian, Chinese and Japanese civilizations. The reason would be concerning Japan and China the relative isolation of these civilizations from civilizations “in the West”.

Vaughan Cornish

A British geographer and explorer, Vaughan Cornish, is of interest in relation to Gilpin but his basic views differed somewhat. Still we need to look into the work of Cornish as an outgrowth of Gilpin's ideas.

British geographer and explorer Vaughan Cornish (1862 – 1948), was a contemporary of English geopolitician Sir Halford Mackinder (1861 – 1947). In his writings Cornish often expressed fear that the English dominions across the sea would be overwhelmed by the peoples from the outside. The British political geographer and globalist traveled much in East Asia and expressed admiration for oriental peoples. Through the years both Cornish and Mackinder had to come to terms with the decline of the British Empire.

One of Cornish's favorite ideas was that ‘strategic geography’ was to be made known to every citizen. This was very similar to the view of other globalists: to open the public mind to the geopolitical map. During the First World War there was an opportunity to bring the concept of ‘strategic geography’ to the forefront (see the Geography of Imperial Defense, 1923).

After the War the travels of Cornish were extended: Central America, North America in the west and China as well as Japan in the east. The threat to the British Empire was from non-Europeans in his view. Strategically the submarine and an immense increase in number and efficiency of aircraft would also threaten the future of the sea-lanes. A central theme was demographics and Cornish preferred families with four children to three children in the British homeland and among the settlers in the dominions.

Central to his strategic thinking was Strategic Atlas of the Oceans (1925) which was part of a wider project on choke-points (also invoked in the 1980s by US president Ronald Reagan), naval strength, and British power.

For globalists the Cornish book, The Great Capitals, (1923) is of interest. It covered the civilizations and empires such as the Graeco-Roman, British, and Chinese. They were, he pointed out, all located on roughly the same isotherms. This is the same thinking on the isotherm subject by Cornish as was Gilpin before him. This analysis would include a closer reading of Gilpin’s The Cosmopolitan Railway and Cornish’s The Great Cities. Some of Cornish’ strategic essays are availble in Vaughan Cornish, Geographical Essays (1946).


Focusing on Gilpin and Cornish, now largely forgotten, could help understand the heliotropic myth – the ancient belief that that history is a succession of great civilizations developing, like the movement of the sun, from east to west. In this myth America is the fulfillment of history, the last empire.

In the fifteenth century Columbus discovered the New World. The question in this connection is of course why the European civilization was the only one taking the gamble of traveling vast seas to find new land?

One explanation could be that Europeans rose above the pretension that they lived in the center of the world. The Chinese did not. The Europeans (and Americans) are heirs to the Jewish belief that there is no sacredness in nature and also heirs to classical logic of the Greeks, who were open to the world around them. Geographical factors also contributed. Europe had the Mediterranean Sea, which pointed westward to the great unknown ocean. It was, however, the small island, England, that brought true transfer of influence of Europeans to the West, not Spain or France, although powerful nations in their day. Many European had predicted a transfer of hegemony and influence to America; predictions that have come true.

Gilpin firmly believed in America’s role as the leading civilization of the future. It ought to be, in the humble view of this author, important to further study the heliotropic myth, its origins and possible application in the twenty first century and the globalist who are steering it.


1) Bernard de Voto, Geopolitics with the Dew on It, Harper’s Magazine, CLXXXVIII, (March, 1944), pp. 313 – 323.

2)Norman Graebner, Empire on the Pacific, A Study in American Continental Expansion (1955)

3)U.S. Senate Report No. 306, 29h Congress, 1st Session, 1846.

by Theo Berigsen

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Apocryphon of Robert

A Book Review
Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up: A Skeptical Believer's Guide to the Reality of Christ, Reverend Robert McClelland, Trafford Publishing, 128pp, 2015. Hardbound $20.77 (also available in softbound and e-book)  Book can be purchased HERE

Rev Robert McClelland is a retired Presbyterian minister and although I have never been to his church I met him while my wife and I were exhibiting at an art show in St. Louis, Missouri. McClelland is also an artist who is very accomplished with watercolor. He was exhibiting across from us and in the course of the weekend I struck up a conversation with him and discovered we have some things in common. Most important to him was my interest in theology. On two different occasions I had long conversations with him.
  Here are a couple observation I have about Rev McClelland that will make the discussion of his book more relevant. The first is revealed in the title. “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up...”. This line comes from a TV game show that featured a panel of four celebrities whose object is the correctly identification of a mystery guest. The climax of each episode was when the host would say, “Will the real (fill in a name) please stand up”. The show's hay-day was 1956 to 1968 although it was in sporadic syndication for several more years.
  The reference to the show reveals something about McClelland. It refers to a time when America was at the zenith of its power. A time when the big bright Protestant church on Main Street was the center of public ethics, morality, and political behavior. A mid-century left center Liberalism stood for the reasonable role of big government and was a bulwark against the extremism of national socialism and communism. The Church assumed the role of mediator between God, individuals, and institutions helping steer a middle road course that promoted stability.
  Of course today that world is nearly gone. The Church is still on Main Street but it is now a fortress on the fringes because the town center has moved. Snarling party bosses snap at the faithful driving them this way and then that way as the political and social winds change directions. The clergy struggles to maintain their flock as the hounds of secularism try to drag believers into apathy and scientific atheism. Liberalism has been co-opted by the neo-Marxist Left and old fashion Liberals are caught in a downdraft of situational ethics; the establishment Church wrestling with their own dogma.
  McClelland still has a memory of the past and has seen the changes wash over society while trying to cling to the vision of the shining Church on the town square. But he knows that is no longer a viable model. It is evaporating like spilled gasoline on the driveway.

Art and Remembering

The second thing about the author that helps fill out his background is that he is an artist. His watercolors are executed in an American impressionist style. He says they are just little paintings of landscapes or children. Yet they are more complicated than that. When we examine his choice of subject matter and placement of elements we can see there is a deeper meaning in his representations.   
  Like the post-Reformation Vanitas painters Frans Snyder or Harmen Stennwyck artist Robert McClelland secretes symbolism from his work that is not easily identified by the public except in unconscious cues. The Vanitas artist would include symbolic objects to convey religious messages about the transience of earthly life or other Christian themes. When I asked him about his predilections he would say something like “Well I don't know about that...” then edges the conversation in another direction without issuing a denial.
  This is typical of the Protestant worldview which is uncomfortable with art particularly the unconscious, the symbolic, and the spooky. There is a penchant for avoiding this area of the mind and a wise old pastor knows not to stray outside the boundaries or face scrutiny. However when I brought up the subject he seemed quite delighted at the prospect of someone noticing his clandestine operations.
  He will paint the image of a boy leaning on a fence gazing off in the distance. A vast question hangs over the painting as the boy ponders the barriers put in front of him. In the painting “Evensong” that I have used as an illustration the image has several meanings. Two sheep seem to mill aimlessly around a stone wall, one in light one in shadow. A leafless tree stands on one side of them, light gushing through an opening in the wall on the other side. The background is generic. The old Christian symbol of the Good Shepherd comes to mind. Two sheep being tended by Christ. But here the sheep are alone, Christ the shepherd is missing. The barren tree is the medieval symbol of death and the opening in the wall a symbol of life and resurrection. This landscape puts me in mind of von Ruisdael among others.
  When confronted with my interpretation, McClelland says it is just a landscape of Scotland and then says “Well....” his voice trails off. I told him that I thought his unconscious mind was oozing all over the painting. He wouldn't deny it. This is a key element of his work both in painting and in writing. He is exhibiting the Jungian phenomena of allowing the unconscious mind to enter the dialog he is having with the rest of the world. What I have called an appeal to vestigial reality to manifest from the lyrical mind.

Writing on the Canvas

McClelland's propensity for hidden meaning spills over into his writing. It makes the composition lively and thought provoking. At times he may be giving us conflicting views in order to make a point invoking cognitive dissonance as a tool. There are also genuine sparks of genius mixed in the text.
  The subtitle of the book “A Skeptical Believer's Guide to the Reality of Christ” comes into play in the first part of the book. He tries to put the skeptic and non-believer's opinion superimposed over his own views. This device in some cases seems to be a bit under cooked.
  He writes about the Virgin Birth giving us several questionable historical rumors that seem to disprove it. Then he sums up that the circumstances concerning the birth of Jesus are really irrelevant.  It is the Resurrection that is important. I see his point but think he does not shade in the contrast with enough vigor to make the tension go anywhere.
  The same can be said for his explanation for the conflicting views expressed in the first books of the New Testament. Here he does a better job of being the simultaneous skeptic and believer. Nonetheless, we could get confused when he brings up arcane topics like the interpolation (deliberate changes or distortions) in Mark where an ending to the Gospel is inserted by an unseen hand. When asked about this he explained that he and other scholars believes the Gospel ended with Mark 8 and later an extension was inserted thereby protecting the early disciples from Roman persecution under Emperor Nero. Rev McClelland says, “...their destiny does not lie in Nero's hands but in Christ's hands.” The issue of interpolation is left open. However, his treatment of the departures between the four Gospels and Paul's contribution are generally helpful and less controversial.
  His insights into the interactions of Jesus and his disciples are vivid and useable. Ultimately we have ordinary people like ourselves trying to explain an event that has no precedent in history. The appearance of Christ is a huge flash of light from out of nowhere and mortal men and women are struggling to make sense of it.
  In chapter four McClelland attempts to recast the Old Testament (OT). He uses a number of literary devices in this effort. He continues to imagine that he is putting skepticism and belief into a third party who is the audience for his speculations. Then he overlays the use of a new fable to retell the story of the Old Testament in contemporary terms.
  The new story takes material from the Old Testament and spins a dream-like tale of how God (a vain artist) created the Universe including Mankind and gets it wrong and becomes angry and wrathful then redeemed himself and us through reconciliation. It is an ambitious storyline to say the least.
  The recast of the OT story has an eerie resemblance to the pre-Nicene (early Christian) Valentinus story that is analogous with the OT. In this Christian storyline a self absorbed Sophia believes that her Wisdom alone can create a new world. When Sophia discovers creation is more difficult than she supposes her frustrated anger promotes a disciple, Laldabaoth, to rule over her botched creation. Laldabaoth's inherits Sophia's wrath and confusion (achamoth) which he uses as the Law. Ultimately the Most High God must step in and send a redeemer, Christos, to bring balance back to our world and offer Mankind a way out of Sophia's error.
  Sophia is Wisdom without the compassion and in effect Laldabaoth is the God of the OT. I would not have put McClelland together with the Valentinian story if it were not for on page 35 he references the Gospel of Thomas, another early Christian work associated with the ideas of Valentinus and the so-called Gnostics. While reading the book I wondered if this is another example of McClelland's unconscious mind at work attempting to expand Protestant thinking. After reading the book I asked him about Thomas and he told me, “I studied the (Nag Hammadi) literature at Harvard and teach courses on it. In many ways I am trying in the book to accommodate some of the contributions which the Gnostics have to make to the Church's understanding of the Faith.”
  In chapter five he transitions into the heart of the book that emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit and the celebration of Pentecost. Two elements that are often curbed in Christian thinking. McClelland is really asking some fundamental questions about the future of Christendom. He may be proposing a reorientation of thinking from Faith and Works to Grace and Knowing. Knowledge of the Holy Spirit in our life will lead to a deeper understanding of God's Grace. The rest of Christ's plan will naturally flow from there.

The Open Door

L A Marzulli has said if you take all the mysticism, supernatural, and para-normal out of the Bible you are left with genealogy and a few battle scenes. This is hyperbole but he has a valid point. McClelland's emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the mysticism of direct Knowing may be solid Christian pneumatology but unwanted advice to the Church establishment.
  In the book, A New Model of the Universe, originally published (1917) in Russian by Christian mystic Peter Demianovich Ouspensky, the author writes that artists have a special and valid form of knowing that is distinct from other forms of understanding but just as valid. I think this applies to Rev McClelland. He sketches in some speculative theology here, colors a little doctrinal reform over there, and maybe a few strokes of gnosticism in the background thus turning a simple watercolor landscape into a challenging symbolist painting. This sets his writing apart from the average lighthearted retired pastor book.
  In our search for the “the Real Jesus” McClelland guides us in and out of a dreamscape where Scripture is infused with the Nag Hammadi books and his desire to make it resonate with us on a new level. It has the mysterious feel of a gnostic apocryphon. Sometimes I think he is talking to his peers in the clergy, however, that didn't bother me. All in all it is a worthwhile read.

Illustration above"Evensong", 18" x 24",  watercolor on paper, Robert McClelland. (reproduced with permission)

About the author: Rev. McClelland is an ordained Presbyterian pastor (retired) who is the author of some 20 books. He has studied theology in Chicago, Edinburgh, Harvard, and earned a doctorate at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife reside in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

D S Reif