The Four Ideologies of American History

I. The Four Ideologies

America has been the crossroads of many of the cultures and philosophies of the modern world. Countless ideas have shaped the American way of thinking.  However four particular ideologies have been continuous, powerful forces in American life:



Capitalism (Liberalism)

Democracy (Republicanism)

Over time the ideologies of Capitalism and Democracy have become stronger and the ideologies of Christianity and Racism have become weaker.  However, capitalist and democratic ideas were already present in the early, formative years of the American nation.  And even into the 21st century Christianity and Racism still play an important part in American life.

The interaction of these four basic ideologies has produced most of the systematic belief systems in American history.  Section II looks at how these four ideologies have come together in combinations that form persistent tendencies in American thought.  Furthermore, most of the ideological conflict in American history has been between the incompatible elements of these four ideologies, as Outlines in Section III.  Section IV presents the association between the four ideologies and the three regions of the U.S.

II. Synergies of the 4 American Ideologies

Christianity + Racism = ethical justification of white supremacy

Christianity + Capitalism = Protestant work ethic

Christianity + Democracy = messianic globalism (saving the world)

Racism + Capitalism = slavery

Racism + Democracy = nativism, isolationism

Capitalism + Democracy = liberalism

Christianity + Racism + Capitalism = Manifest Destiny, imperialism
(heart of 19st century American foreign policy)

Capitalism + Democracy + residual Christianity + implicit Racism = liberal internationalism
(heart of 21st century American foreign policy)

III. Conflicts of the 4 American Ideologies

Christianity vs. Racism = abolition of slavery/civil rights movement vs. white supremacy

Christianity vs. Capitalism = moral values vs. narcissistic consumption

Christianity vs. Democracy = kingdom of god/Biblical law vs. city of man/constitutional law

Racism vs. Capitalism = slavery/segregation vs. free wage labor

Racism vs. Democracy = white supremacy/cultural monism vs. multiculturalism

Capitalism vs. Democracy = money politics/corporate state vs. people power/welfare state

IV. Three Regions and 4 Ideologies

Racism, Christianity strongest in South
Democracy weakest in South

Capitalism strongest in North

Democracy strongest in West