Sunday, 15 January 2012

A republic, if you can keep it

I have been reading Garet Garrett's 'People's Pottage' (published under the title 'Ex-America' by Caxton Press), three essays grimly dissecting America's descent from republic to empire. Sadly Garett's lament for lost liberty did not stop the slide, but it is valuable to know better the steps that were taken, most notably by Roosevelt and Truman, to destroy that city on the hill. Here's an extract from the last one, 'Rise of Empire':

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?

War and conquest? No. Republics may make war and pursue the aims of conquest. Continental conquest did not give the United States the character of Empire. Continental conquest was but the growth of a lively political organism, acting from its own center. Thenatural limits of it were geographic. Notions of Empire did at the same time arise—notions of external conquest — but they were sternly put down by the republican spirit.

Colonies, then? No, not colonies. At least, you have to say what you mean by colonies. They are of many kinds and represent diverse intentions in time and circumstance. An over-populated republic may swarm, as bees do. Colonies did not make Greece an Empire. The Greek colonists were emigrants. As they moved across the Aegean Sea to the shores of Asia Minor they took with them fire from the sacred hearth, and were sometimes subsidized out of the public treasury as if they were children entitled to a farewell portion of the family wealth; but beyond that they were on their own, and when a colony was founded it was a sovereign state, not politically bound to the mother-state.

War, conquest, colonization, expansion—these are political exertions that occur in the history of any kind of state that was ever known, tyrannies, oligarchies, republics or democracies. But let us regard the things that belong only to empire, and set them down. Then we shall see.

The first requisite of Empire is:
The executive power of government shall be dominant.

Read on...

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