In Chapter Fourteen, Zinn argues that the official justification for American involvement in the war—that it was undertaken to protect free trade and other rights of nations—is nonsense. He quotes historian Richard Hofstadter, hardly a radical, who dismissed this as "rationalization of the flimsiest sort." Zinn finds the real motives for entering the war in what Wilson called the "righteous conquest of foreign markets" and a desire to achieve profits for industrialists and financiers while promoting unity with the working classes. American involvement in the war would open up tremendous opportunities for war profiteers, and victory would ensure expanded American access to global markets. Zinn notes that J.P. Morgan and Company issued massive loans to Great Britain, which obviously gave them a motive for seeing Allied victory, even (or more accurately, especially) if that meant American intervention. Zinn spends most of this chapter writing about how the American state sought to maintain a consensus for fighting the war through propaganda, suppression of dissent, and especially crushing working-class unrest. Socialist opposition was especially strong, as evidenced by Eugene V. Debs and Charles Schenck, both imprisoned for voicing their distaste for the war, and the actions of the International Workers of the World. In short, to enforce consensus on a war that many Americans did not want, the "establishment" in the United States resorted to decidedly undemocratic measures:
The patriotic fervor of war had been invoked. The courts and jails had been used to reinforce the idea that certain ideas, certain kinds of resistance, could not be tolerated.