Being a Look Back at One Possible Future
is the text of the lecture delivered on September 11, 2051, at the
first meeting of the year’s Introduction to American History class
at the Rockwell School of History and Free Trade of Rothbard University.
It was delivered by Instructor Emeritus Ed Cobb who is so old that
he is allowed to teach out of nostalgia despite this lack of any
serious scholarly credentials.
divide the story of the American nation into four republics. Today
this view is commonly accepted as self-evident but such was not
always the case. As recently as 50 years ago most Americans thought
in terms of one republic. Of course, we see that view as simplistic.
let’s briefly review the outlines of the first three American republics
and then discuss our current era, the Fourth Republic.
first American era began with the founding. That story, its ideals
and aspirations and its failings are intimately familiar to each
of you seated in this lecture hall today. (As an aside, let me point
out that your grandparents were not taught much about our founding
and what makes America what she is, which was no small part of the
problem with the Third Republic.)
had created something new and there was no blueprint to follow.
We see the First Republic as a time of learning. The founders made
mistakes and had amazing successes, with accepting slavery for as
long as they did being their most obvious error. But at the same
time, the spirit of human freedom that was unleashed in America
was becoming the most powerful civic force ever seen on the planet.
Second Republic was born in the War Between the States. Today it
is impossible to comprehend the reverence in which Abraham Lincoln,
the president who fathered the Second Republic by denying the South
its clear right to secede, was once held in this country. Not long
ago most Americans credited him with abolishing slavery, which we
know he did in only a limited fashion and as a political expedient,
and ignored his centralization of power and disregard for the Bill
of Rights. You will find it hard to believe but Americans once called
him "Honest Abe" without irony. Today that nickname is
spoken in the same tone we use when we say "Tricky Dicky"
or "Slick Willie."
is some debate regarding the true beginning of the Third Republic,
the Imperial phase of the American story. Many historians argue
for Franklin Roosevelt as the founder of the Empire. It is
undoubtedly true that he was the most successful of the imperial
presidents. He established our permanent military presence around
the globe. He grew the influence of government over the day-to-day
lives of Americans to proportions that were just as unimaginable
before his time as they are to us today.
the honor, if it can be called honor, of founding the American Empire
falls to Woodrow Wilson. Under Wilson, America sent troops to fight
in a European War that had no relevance to American national interests.
To this day no one really understands how or why it broke
out. During that war, he limited the rights of Americans to
criticize his actions in ways that would impress even "Honest
Abe." Wilson also masterminded the Treaty of Versailles, the
provisions of which so oppressed Germany and so depressed its economy
that it led directly to the rise to power of the Nazis under Adolph
and the Nazis then became the target of FDR’s wrath. Their destruction
enabled the rise of Stalin and the Soviet Empire whose defeat in
the Cold War led to the rise of the Jihad of the early 21st Century.
But I am getting ahead of myself. We will cover all of that in detail
as the semester progresses.
innovation of Emperor Wilson’s was The League of Nations. Luckily,
America was still sufficiently sane that she refused to be dragged
into membership in this early experiment in global government. But
he planted the seed that eventually grew into the United Nations
and we all know how badly that turned out. By the way, as I was
listening to the radio in my office before class a report came over
that the last UN delegate still at large was captured today and
is now in custody, an auspicious omen for the start of the new semester.
Third Republic, the American Empire, ended fifty years ago today
when terrorists of the Jihad massacred innocent civilians on American
soil. These were difficult times for the American people. We sustained
horrible losses in savage acts of guerilla warfare in our own backyard.
The people of America wanted justice. They wanted an end to terrorism.
Luckily that is not all they wanted. They wanted to know why, why
had it happened? That turned out to be the key.
see, through all the changes in the American government the basic
character of the American people had never changed. It was in 2001
essentially as it had been in 1776 and as it is today. By their
nature, Americans are generous and friendly and they love liberty.
Loving their own liberty, Americans wish liberty to everyone else.
At the same time they would prefer to mind their own business and
let others do the same.
over the years since the founding of the First Republic, a distance
had grown up between the aspirations of the American people and
the actions of the American government. By the time of the final
years of the imperial phase, the gap had grown so large as to be
irreconcilable. It even had a name: BED, or Bipolar Empire Disease.
elites who ruled the American Empire (politicians, establishment
media, military-industrial complex) were enamored of their imperial
power and privilege. They stood at one pole. Most of them were no
longer truly American in the way that the average person on the
street was American. The real people stood at the opposite pole.
America was faced with the choice of going one way or the
other: Republic or Empire.
BED gap is personified in the last emperor, William J. Clinton,
the "American Caligula." Clinton never held an actual
job. He lived his entire life on the money of taxpaying Americans
in homes they provided for him. He was a serial abuser of women
who somehow, unbelievably, managed to get away with it by saying
he had a right to a private life. Clinton was responsible for the
deaths of so many innocent people in Serbia, Iraq, Sudan and other
places that, even after worldwide peace was established, he was
forced to live out his days in a bunker deep in the Ozark Mountains.
For extra credit, research why that bunker was called Casa Grande.
The fact that William J. Clinton was elected to the imperial presidency
twice is perhaps the most telling proof of the sickness of empire
and of the vast distance that had developed between the best that
lives in the American people and what their leadership had become,
what the Empire had become.
founding father of our current era, the Fourth Republic, President
George W. Bush presents an interesting case. He was routinely ridiculed
by the princes of the media elite. It is hard for us to imagine
this treatment today knowing what he accomplished but it is true.
They feared him because they knew that he was not one of them. He
saw through them and knew that the Empire had no clothes. Unlike
Clinton, Bush had worked in business and understood how markets
work and how wealth is created. And unlike Clinton’s failed, hand
picked successor, a man named Albert Gore, he had lived among real
people outside the Imperial City. And he had actually finished graduate
Gore fellow is an interesting footnote. Few even recognize the name
Gore today except as the first name of one of the nation’s greatest
writers. In early September of 2001 there were reports that he was
planning a political comeback and then no more was ever hard of
him. He joined Judge Crater and Jimmy Hoffa as historic oddities
who simply vanished.
will study the years long War on Terrorism and Bush’s masterful
management of the worldwide coalition that prosecuted that war and
virtually eliminated that threat while minimizing the loss of innocent
human life. We will concentrate on the answer to the question of
why the initial attack had happened and on America’s response to
will bring us into some of the most interesting and challenging
days in our history. Among them will be The Return when, having
subdued global terrorism, President Bush ended our worldwide military
presence – and effectively ended the Empire - by bringing all U.S.
troops back within our own borders. His speech citing George Washington’s
warning against foreign alliances is an American classic. Then we
will look at the start of today’s era of global free trade when
he ended all American trade sanctions and offered to drop all trade
barriers with any nation that would do the same. And when we look
at the difficult days of the Great Departure, when all illegal aliens
were returned to their homelands and the Great Wall of the Southwest
was built, we will see Bush at his best, firm in his resolve to
save the American Republic.
are many more topics, students. The awarding of the Nobel Peace
Prize to Howard Lutnick of Cantor Fitzgerald for his work during
the first 25 years of this century in bringing attention to the
natural peacemaking qualities of business and wealth creation. It
is largely because of him that we all recognize free trade as the
source of today’s global cooperation and tranquility. Then there
was Jesse Jackson’s winning of the Prize for Economics, acknowledging
his personal success in getting rich by helping poor people.
will review the Hollywood Boycott, when average American people
decided they were mad as hell and weren’t going to buy the depraved
products of the entertainment elite any longer, thus putting an
end to the wealth and power of the most decadent people in the world.
And finally, the end of all federal taxation in 2010 by Bush’s successor
followed by his dismantling of 85% of the Imperial Bureaucracy.
By these two acts President J.C. Watts freed the true genius
of the American people for creating and exporting liberty and wealth
and earned his place in the pantheon of our greatest presidents.
all seems inevitable now but, in truth, it was not. Had the
decisions made by George W. Bush between 2001 and 2009 gone a different
way any number of alternative American futures might have emerged.
More Empire abroad and a police state at home until it all collapsed
as Rome had collapsed. A full-scale global shooting war with nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons depopulating and poisoning a planet
that returned to the Stone Age. Instead, the world lives in peace
and prosperity today because of President Bush’s decisions. Welcome
to 2051, America.
Cobb [send him mail] is
a printer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. He is a northerner by
birth, a southerner by choice, and a Catholic by the grace of God.
© 2001 LewRockwell.com