Social Mood Conference | Socionomics Foundation

By Robert Folsom | Excerpted from the May 2014  Socionomist


 It is no secret that the U.S. government has increased its censorship and surveillance of citizens since 2001. But what is less evident is that today’s increasing authoritarianism is built upon several negative mood periods of the past century.

In part one of this study, Robert Folsom reviews the first of four major trends toward negative social mood that fueled the development of the American security state.

Here is an excerpt of the May 2014 article.

1901-1921: World War I and the Surrounding Years

Going to War

“He kept us out of war” was the slogan of the Democrats and President Woodrow Wilson during the election campaign of 1916. It seemed credible. Wilson was elected to his first term in 1912. He had indeed kept the US neutral in the two-plus years since Europe went to war.

… Wilson won by a tiny margin, and for three months afterward still publicly embraced “armed neutrality.” In a speech to Congress on February 26, 1917, he condemned German naval aggression—yet insisted that “I am not now proposing or contemplating war, or any steps that lead to it.” His March 5 inauguration speech reiterated, “We stand firm in armed neutrality…”

Yet on April 2, 1917—less than a month after his public statements to the contrary—Wilson asked for a declaration of war. He received it by Joint Resolution just four days later. What explains the about-face? Social mood does, as is clear in the timing of the stock market pattern: After the November 1916 high, the long-term negative mood trend resumed and stocks plummeted. Prompted by the change in mood, Wilson reversed his position on entering the war, and Congress gave him what he asked for.

The Security State Rises

An immediate, epic expansion of brute-force authoritarianism followed. Negative mood traits like exclusion, separatism, restriction, fear and malevolence increased with the speed of a virulent disease. “Conformity would be the only virtue,” said Wilson. Sixty years later the Moynihan Commission Report observed, “Much of the structure of secrecy now in place in the United States Government took shape in just under eleven weeks in the spring of 1917.”


Figure 3

The Wilson administration’s first target was not German soldiers in the trenches of Europe, but instead one that was an easy mark for the nascent security state: Namely, German immigrants living in America. They were an imposingly large group of suspects: The 1910 U.S. Census showed a German-born immigrant population of 2.3 million (about 17% of the foreign-born population), more than from any other country. The president labeled the aspiring Americans “alien enemies,” ordered that their “conduct … be observed” and did nothing to mitigate the wave of extreme anti-German sentiment that followed.…


In the remainder of this seven-page article, author Robert Folsom:

  • Reviews other war-time surveillance and censorship measures by the Wilson administration, such as attacks on anti-war voters, the creation of the Espionage Act of 1917, and the nationalization of all domestic radio stations and broadcasts
  • Discusses the post-war crusade against the domestic “threats” of communism, labor, and “the Negro”
  • And outlines eleven “security” outcomes that emerged in each of the four historic negative social mood periods

Bonus: A brief overview of the first major American national security whistleblower – Herbert O. Yardley.

  • Read Parts TWO and THREE of this report.

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