A few weeks ago I had my first taste of Garet Garrett as I read his "Rise of Empire" essay in The People's Pottage for a class assignment. At the time I thought, "this guy is very insightful," but didn't give much further thought to it as I checked it off my reading list and moved on to my next assignment. This week though, I read it again as I prepared for a final exam and as I read I was utterly astounded at his insight. Even though he was writing in 1952 about the events of his day, he was also absolutely prophetic.
Most everyone is familiar with the story analogizing the difference between sudden change and gradual change to that of cooking a frog by either dropping it in boiling water or placing it in water slowly brought to a boil. It's said that the frog that's dropped in the pot of boiling water will immediately jump out while the frog in the warm water that's gradually heated will be boiled alive. Consider now, a pot full of frogs with one of the frogs trying to warn the others that the water was getting dangerously hot and they all needed to jump out? This is what you have in the essay "Rise of Empire."
In this case, the gradually warming water is the loss of our constitutional republic to an empire, the frogs are us and Garrett is sounding the warning. Written just two years before his death, Garrett describes how empires come to be; what the marks of an empire are, while at the same time relating each mark to events during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations; then finally, outlining what steps are necessary to reclaim our republic.
It's amazing how easily his description of an empire fits our current political and economic environment in the United States. Just as he described, we live in a nation where the executive branch has come to be the dominant power in the government. He marks the introduction of the income tax and our involvement in WWI as the beginning of this dominance in force.
Just as he described, we live in a nation where the domestic policy has become "subordinate to foreign policy." This is true even to the point that "there is no domestic policy that may not have to be sacrificed to the necessities of foreign policy — even freedom." The government trumpets that if "our foreign policy fails" our very survival as a nation is at risk.
Again, just as he described, we live in a nation where the military influence over policy has become so dominant as to intimidate our civilian leaders, especially the Congress. Quoting General MacArthur, he notes that "…our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
Just as he described, we live in a nation with an orbit of satellite nations acting as a ring of protection. These nations are dependent on the empire for their survival in case of war with their enemies and the empire is dependent on the satellites as an outer ring of defense.
Once again, just as he described, we live in a nation full of vaunting and fear. On the one hand the national mindset is one of nationalistic pride with scorn for those who question governmental policies and intentions, yet on the other hand it's one of fear. Fear of the barbarians at the door, the satellite nations and the allies. Will the barbarians attack, will the satellite nations continue to remain as an outpost, and will allies remain allies in the heat of battle?
Finally, he says, an empire becomes a "prisoner of history." It takes on the responsibility of "moral leadership" and doing battle against the "forces of evil everywhere." The empire presumes to keep peace, maintain law and order 'round the world and, dare I say, spread democracy.
As prescient as these insights were though, it was the last section of the essay, "The Lost Terrain," which left me stunned. It was truly amazing. After pointing out that a republic and an empire are in mortal conflict, with the only possible outcome being that one will vanquish the other, Garrett outlines what must be done to save the Republic.
First, the people must relearn to think for themselves. They must rise above the propaganda of dependence and fear fomented by the Empire. Once they have regained thought for themselves they will see that there is an alternative to the path of Empire and that the Republic can be saved. Secondly, foreign policy must be submitted to public debate. If the citizens must die for the foreign policy then the citizens should debate it. Third, the electorate must regain control of the public coffers. The power of the purse must be wrestled from the executive and returned to the people. Next, the evil of inflation must be slain without compromise. Only sound money can restore economic health. And finally, the people must be prepared to do battle and willing to endure the costs of battle.
Garrett ends with this observation, “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.”
Well, a leader with courage has now appeared. One who has dared to show the courage to speak the truth and to lay out the choice before us. That man is Ron Paul. He, and he alone, has engaged the people and challenged them to rethink the role of our government in light of the Constitution. He, and he alone, has questioned and debated the wisdom of our current foreign policy in the face of ridicule by his colleagues and peers. He, and he alone, has called for the end to unrestrained federal spending over the course of his service in Congress. He, and he alone, has recognized inflation for the evil it is and called for an end to our suicidal monetary policy. He, and he alone, has taken up the standard for Liberty and the Republic without flinching in the face of public scorn and contempt from the Empire's elites.
So, dear reader, you can see, the leader portion of Garrett's prescription is being fulfilled right now, today, before our very eyes. The question we must answer is, u2018Do the people "…want [the Republic] enough to fight for it and pay the price"?'
I hope and pray it is so.
December 17, 2007