What Has Become of Our Government?

Summarized in a Mises Institute condensation, titled, “The American Empire,” (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) from Garet Garrett’s book, The People’s Pottage, we read,

If you may have Empire with or without a constitution, even within the form of a republican constitution, and if also you may have Empire with or without an emperor, then how may the true marks of Empire be distinguished with certainty?  What are they?

Garrett lists six of these marks,

1) The executive power of government shall be dominant.  – What Empire needs above all in government is an executive power that can make immediate decisions, such as a decision in the middle of the night by the President to declare war on the aggressor…  The Federal income-tax law of 1914 gave the government unlimited access to wealth…not for revenue only but…for redistribution of the national wealth.  Congress…principal function was to enact and [fund] them.  The part of the Supreme Court was to make everything square with the Constitution by a liberal reinterpretation of its language…  For all the years before when you spoke of the executive power of government you meant only the power to execute and administer the laws.  Henceforth it would mean the power to [rule].

No longer did the Congress of the United States speak for the people, but the President did, as head of the Executive Government.  Garrett writes, “Thus the man who happens to be the embodiment of the executive principle stands between the Congress and the people and assumes the right to express [the people’s] will.”

Examining the second mark of empire, Garrett writes,

2) Domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign policy.  – It needs hardly to be argued that as we convert the nation into a garrison state to build the most terrible war machine that has ever been imagined on earth, every domestic policy is bound to be conditioned by our foreign policy…  We are no longer able to choose between peace and war.  We have embraced perpetual war…

The third mark of empire is this,

3) Ascendancy of the military mind, to such a point…that the civilian mind is intimidated.  – War becomes an instrument of domestic policy.  Among the control mechanisms on the government’s panel board now is a dial marked War.  It may be set to increase or decrease the tempo of military expenditures, as the planners decide that what the economy needs is a little more inflation or a little less – but of course never any deflation.  And whereas it was foreseen that when Executive Government is resolved to control the economy it will come to have a vested interest in the power of inflation, so now we perceive that it will come also to have a kind of proprietary interest in the institution of perpetual war…

He then identifies a historic structural aspect of empire,

4) [It acquires] a system of satellite nations.  – We speak of our own satellites as allies and friends or as freedom loving nations.  Nevertheless, satellite is the right word.  The meaning of it is the hired guard…  For any one of them to involve us in war it is necessary only for the Executive Power at Washington to decide that its defense is somehow essential to the security of the United States…

…Any candidate for office who trifles with its basic conviction will be scourged.  The basic conviction is simple.  We cannot stand alone.  A capitalistic economy, though it possesses half the industrial power of the whole world, cannot defend its own hemisphere.  It may be able to save the world; alone it cannot save itself.  It must have allies.  Fortunately, it is able to buy them, bribe them, arm them, feed and clothe them; it may cost us more than we can afford, yet we must have them or perish.  This voice of fear is the voice of government.

This hired guard becomes a source of both boasting and fear for empire.  Garrett says,

5) [It is in thrall to a combination] of [boasting] and fear.  – As we assume unlimited political liabilities all over the world…there is only scorn for the one who says: “We are not infinite.  Let us calculate our utmost power of performance, weigh it against what we are proposing to do, and see if the scales will balance.”  The [boastful] answer is: “We do not know what our utmost is.  What we will to do, that we can do.  Let us resolve to do what is necessary.  Necessity will create the means.”

Conversely, the fear.  Fear of the barbarian.  Fear of standing alone.  A time comes when the guard itself, that is, your system of satellites, is a source of fear.  Satellites are often willful and the more you rely upon them the more willful and demanding they are…  How will they behave when the test comes?  …If they falter or fail, what will become of the weapons with which we have supplied them?  What if they were surrendered or captured and turned against us?  The possibility of having to face its own weapons on a foreign field is one of the nightmares of Empire…

The last mark of empire, Garrett writes, is that the time comes when,

6) [It] finds itself a prisoner of history.  – …A Republic is not obliged to act upon the world, either to change or instruct it.  Empire, on the other hand, must put forth its power…  It is our turn: to assume the responsibilities of moral leadership in the world; to maintain a balance of power against the forces of evil everywhere – in Europe and Asia and Africa, in the Atlantic and in the Pacific, by air and by sea…; to keep the peace of the world; to save civilization; and to serve mankind.

…Always the banners of Empire proclaim that the ends in view sanctify the means.  The ironies, sublime and pathetic, are two.  The first one is that Empire believes what it says on its banner; the second is that the word for the ultimate end is invariably Peace.  Peace by grace of force.  One must see that on the road to Empire there is soon a point from which there is no turning back…

Summing up his description of empire, Garrett writes,

Between government in the republican meaning, that is, constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire, on the other hand, there is mortal enmity.  Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other.  That we know.  Yet never has the choice been put to a vote of the people.

The country has been committed to the course of Empire by Executive Government, one step at a time, with slogans, concealments, equivocations, a propaganda of fear, and in every crisis an appeal for unity, lest we present to the world the aspect of a divided nation, until at last it may be proclaimed that events have made the decision and it is irrevocable.  Thus, now to alter the course is impossible.

Who says it is impossible?  The President says it; the State Department says it; all globalists and one-worlders are saying it.

Garrett wrote these things seventy years ago.  Having had a brief respite from new perpetual wars, we are right back at it.  What comes to my mind is the scripture, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”  Jeremiah 6:14, English Standard Version.

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