American Empire Disaggregated

We’ve taken our post, ‘Revolution Within the Form – Review and Commentary’ and disaggregated it. It was too long and tortuous as extracted from the source material, so we took it apart into more cohesive modules. However, as with all blog posts, these modules were posted in reverse order so that they would be in order when read later. This post links these posts for those who saw them issued in reverse order.

  1. Do Not Look for a RevolutionGaret Garrett and his views on our loss of the American Republic to empire, his so-called ‘revolution within the form.’
  2. Our Government’s Erosion Garet Garrett’s synecdoche, centered on the Constitution’s phrase, “The Congress shall have power to declare war,” for the erosion of the American republic and transformation into empire.
  3. What Has Become of Our Government? Garet Garrett’s description of the American Empire.
  4. The Bureaucratic State Garet Garrett’s description of the growth of executive power and nature of the administrative state.
  5. What Should We Do About the American Empire?Garet Garrett’s thoughts for reconstituting the American republic and a suggested scriptural alternative.

We also attempted to get these published in a national blog, but they weren’t appropriate to their needs. Hopefully these smaller articles will get wider distribution and reading. Garrett foresaw what many did not seventy years ago. Some, however, did. The difference of course is that he said something about it. He was forgotten.

Signing the U.S. Constitution
Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, Howard Chandler Christy (January 10, 1873 – March 3, 1952), Public Domain in the US

Do Not Look for a Revolution

Seventy years ago, Garet Garrett, a journalist and novelist, maintained,

There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road.  But they are gazing in the wrong direction.  The revolution is behind them.  It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom.

He quotes Aristotle’s Politics, “one thing takes the place of another, so that the ancient laws will remain, while the power will be in the hands of those who have brought about revolution in the state.”

In a Mises Institute condensation, titled, “The American Empire,” (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) from his book, The People’s Pottage, he quotes Aristotle’s Politics again,

People do not easily change but love their own ancient customs; and it is by small degrees only that one thing takes the place of another; so that the ancient laws will remain, while the power will be in the hands of those who have brought about a revolution in the state.

Garrett charges this subversion, which he terms a ‘revolution within the form,’ against the Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Harry Truman administrations.

Garrett sums up his thesis this way,

The extent to which the original precepts and intentions of constitutional, representative, limited government, in the republican form, have been eroded away by argument and dialectic is a separate subject, long and ominous, and belongs to a treatise on political science.

…When the process of erosion has gone on until there is no saying what the supreme law of the land is at a given time, then the Constitution begins to be flouted by executive will, with something like impunity.  The instances may not be crucial at first and all the more dangerous for that reason.  As one is condoned another follows and they become progressive…

As we see every day, the revolution is not over.  However, Garrett’s point is that the revolution started in the early Twentieth Century.  Keep in mind that the original source article was published in 1952, seventy years ago.

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.

What Should We Do About the American Empire?

Garet Garrett defined the American empire in his book, The People’s Pottage, seventy years ago.  From a Mises Institute condensation, titled, “The American Empire,” (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), Garrett says,

Do not ask whether or not it is possible [to alter our course].  Ask yourself this: if it were possible, what would it take?  How could the people restore the Republic if they would?  Or, before that, how could they recover their Constitutional sovereign right to choose for themselves?

When you have put it that way you are bound to turn and look at the lost terrain.  What are the positions, forgotten or surrendered, that would have to be recaptured?

He then lists the hills that must be retaken if the republic is to be reestablished.

The first hill is “a state of mind,”

To recover the habit of decision the people must learn again to think for themselves; and this would require a kind of self-awakening, as from a wee small alarm in the depths.

The second is “renewed public debate of foreign policy.”  Citing a speech given to the National Women’s Democratic Club on November 20, 1951, by President Truman, Garrett quotes,

You remember what happened in 1920.  When the people voted for Harding, that meant a tremendous change in the course the United States was following.  It meant that we turned our backs on the new-born League of Nations…  I think most people now recognize that the country chose the wrong course in 1920…  Since I have been President, I have sought to steer a straight course of handling foreign policy matters on the sole basis of the national interest.  The people I have chosen to fill the major positions concerned with foreign policy have been picked solely on merit, without regard to party labels.  I want to keep it that way.  I want to keep our foreign policy out of domestic politics.

Garrett then analyzes Truman’s remarks,

So far had the American mind been conditioned by the infatuate phrase, bi-partisan foreign policy, that extraordinary statement was vacantly received.  What was the President saying?  He was saying that because, in his opinion, the people once voted wrong on foreign policy, they ought not to vote on it at all anymore.  Let them leave it to the President.  It follows logically that the people have no longer anything to say about war and peace.

On this [hill], where foreign policy once more shall be debated by the people who may have to die for it, let the wind be cold and merciless.  Let those be nakedly exposed to it who have brought the country to this impasse.

The next hill that must be retaken is the “public purse,” once controlled by the people through congress, and now by the unelected Government Executive through (or, sometimes, in spite of) the president.  He writes,

Until the people have recovered [the public purse] they cannot tame Executive Government.  Passing laws to control or restrain it is of no avail whatever.  The only way to reason with it is to cut it off at the pockets…  No matter how badly the people may manage the public purse it cannot control them, whereas, in the hands of the government, control of the purse becomes the single most powerful instrument of executive policy touching the lives of the people.

Finally, the highest hill Garrett identifies, is the cost to save the republic that each citizen must pay, which he names “the Peak of Fortitude.”

What you have to face is that the cost of saving the Republic may be extremely high.  It could be relatively as high as the cost of setting it up in the first place, [two hundred forty-seven] years ago, when love of political liberty was a mighty passion, and people were willing to die for it.

When the economy has for a long time been moving by jet propulsion, the higher the faster, on the fuel of perpetual war and planned inflation, the time comes when you have to choose whether to go on and on and dissolve in the stratosphere or decelerate.  But deceleration will cause a terrific shock.  Who will say, “Now!”?  Who is willing to face the grim and dangerous realities of deflation and depression?

…No doubt the people know they can have their Republic back if they want it enough to fight for it and to pay the price.  The only point is that no leader has yet appeared with the courage to make them choose.

As a defining example of the restoration cost, Garrett cites the scripture, “When Moses had brought his people near to the Promised Land, he sent out scouts to explore it…”  However, he incorrectly concludes that the Israelites would have had to fight for the land themselves in their own strength.  Garrett neglected to mention that the Lord God promised that He would fight for them.  In this, Garrett is grievously mistaken.  Actions of mere men will never overturn powers, principalities, and rulers of the darkness

Remarkably, though, all of Garrett’s remarks were written seventy years ago; they sound familiar, don’t they?

We must not forget that the principles of the republic are still valid, no changes required.  But, as John Adams reportedly said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

To restore the republic, two things must happen.  First, we must repent of our luxury and moral indifference and function as free and responsible citizens again.  And second, we must pray that the hand of God removes the administrative state with its rules and regulations and installs responsible citizens in reconstituted city, state, and federal governments.

During this time of turmoil and strife, we do well to abide by the command,

“Do not call [confederacy] all that this people calls [confederacy], and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.  But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy.  Let him be your fear and let him be your dread.  Isaiah 8:12-13 (English Standard Version and Geneva Bible)

Please do not be led astray by those imposters pretending to be the way to peace, safety, and health.  There is only One Who is The Way.

We must rest in the fact that the government of this world is on the Lord Jesus Christ’s shoulders (Isaiah 9:6.)

Remembering always to pass on to the next generation the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

God alone can save us.