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11/24/2012

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Here we go with the exceptional argument again. I doubt there's a way to change someone's mind once they've gone over the edge. Certainly, reasoning won't work because all they see is the "good" that we can do through violence - so long as it's other people on the receiving end. I wonder, when we fall from imperialism and some other country assumes that mantle, will he be OK with that country's violently exceptional policies toward us?

"The Boer War was a fantastic embarrassment"

Yes, if only more Dutch settlers could have died so that England could have been victorious. That way, Africa's mineral wealth could have been extracted for Cecil Rhodes and his crony buddies. How about those concentration camps used by Great Britain then, eh? I wonder who else would use such an idea?

"WW1 an entirely unnecessary conflict caused by ethnocentric attitudes on the behalf of the Russians and Germans"

WWI was a failure of policy, not just on Russia and Germany but of state departments of other European nations as well, including Great Belligerent Britain. The idea that an Archduke gets capped, causing a Czar to call for a general mobilization of troops on his border, thrusting all these nations into inescapable war is amazing to read about.

During WWI, Britain helped to form an illegal blockade, leading to the starvation of millions of Germans. After the war, the Treaty of Versailles demanded huge tolls out of Germany. Then, the London Ultimatum demanded even more. Such was the atmosphere - starvation and a collapsing currency within a depression - from which Hitler rose to prominence. Good old all-knowing exceptional Britain.

"The depression also played a part in this. Not just war."

Ah yes, the depression. One of the facets of the crash was due to England's wish to restore their pound sterling to pre-WWI levels - even though they trounced its value to pay for their warring ways (empires are always fighting someone, it seems). The U.S. Fed tried to help them prop up the pound but caused an outflow of funds from the states to do it (not good for domestic stocks). Such chums we are.

"we had the CIA help Augusto Pinochet launch a military coup to prevent the Chileans from going Communist"
" we are now in the process of making Burma reform to allow freedom and democracy."

So, they squelched Chilean democracy (replaced a democratically elected president so that Pinochet could execute thousands and torture tens of thousands) and now we're helping Burma get democracy? I should know better then to look for consistency in an empire. (CIA also ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, too)


"The British tried that with Neville Chamberlain who regardless of his amazing domestic policy achievements, his horrible foreign policy that attempted to prevent war while allowing the Nazis to grow stronger"

Chamberlain negotiated for peace which was a noble thing to do. The Nazis mindset grew strong long before Chamberlain, thanks to Britain's policies during and after WWI. Also, it's interesting to note that Chamberlain, and Baldwin before him, ensured that England was the first country ever to deploy a fully integrated system of air defense based on radar detection. Churchill fought the idea from the get go.

As for the rest of it, we could go on and on and on about everything an empire does or doesn't do. Some people will see the great opportunity of imperial violence. They believe that our ideas and concepts are superior because we have superior might. Could be said for past empires, from Roman to Chinese to Mongol to Ottoman to Britain. Of course, they're all gone and we'll join them soon, I think. Empires are violent things but they die not only because of foreign exploits but because of the crony oligarchic domestic machine that entrenches itself as well. It eats the wealth at home and abroad. The citizens, thinking themselves powerful and deserving, enjoy it while it lasts (think petrodollar here).

What's interesting is how there always seem to be terrorists, too. You make many enemies running the world… literally. I can still see Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand. So many enemies, so little time.

Brilliant, Eric! Thanks.

There comes a point when you decide it's not worth arguing. I'm always good for a little discussion with folks, but....

"There comes a point when you decide it's not worth arguing."

You are soooo right. And I doubt if I'll engage this fellow when/if he decides to respond. Some people can not be changed and I guess he AND I fall into that category. It's everyone else out there that I can find agreement with - that's where I'm interested in spending time and breath [and keystrokes :)].

An intelligent discussion, remarkable for its civility, especially given the highly unconventional and controversial views of Person 1.

I think, it is possible to present a rational theory of international policy that is morally appealing (by our libertarian standards), realistic and rather conclusive - and along those lines I would side with Laura's rationalisations. Ultimately, however, "only things work that work".

I do not mean to insult and disparage Person 1, who has conducted himself as a sober and friendly discussant, when I point out that Adolf Hitler has taken precisely his stance - and utterely failed, mostly at the expense of the people whose interests he purported to protect and advance.

Why? Because "only things work that work". Even bullying the most impoverished nations of the world, which apparently already defines the capacity limits of US imperialism, bring the US empire close to an increasingly precarious state. To rule the world by force and command - however pious-sounding the resons given for it - is no less achievable than an efficient planned economy. (Not that a enticing vision of the good society justifies imperialism, in my view, but, at any rate, what can America bring in terms of values to the rest of the world other than a social democratic ideology in an advanced stage of decline (eventually fully copied from Europe) - American imperialism is not principled, it's fear biting, emotional, the raging of a bully with a dysfunctional liver. Far from being level-headed, carefully thought through, and based on competence in foreign affairs, it's hysterical and panicky. (These are exactly the preconditions for imperialism to be credible and popular.) Circus games for the plebs that fear to tread the streets of the home country.

The moral precepts that Laura so eloquently presents seem to be closer to the category "only things work that work."

I am leaving aside questions of facticity implied in Person 1's statements about various countries and historical events. Let me only allude: for schemes like "heute England und morgen die ganze Welt" (- "today we take England and tomorrow the entire world", a Nazi slogan)to achieve popularity, it is usually requisite to have an severely simplistic and erroneous "knowledge" of the target countries (which I do find at the bottom of American jingoism) and the difficulties of establishing total dominance - which, never forget, is the same as trying to actualise a fully planned society (here even comprising several societies), something impossible to achieve.

One might find my comment in the penultimate post by Laura - "Mitt Romney's Problem" - of certain interest in the context of the present dialogue.

Incidentally, I would love to read Deepak Lal's (a scholar that I regard highly) "In Parise of Empire" - I don't have the time, having some many other books to read urgently, but maybe Laura might take a look and offer us a book review.

http://www.amazon.de/Praise-Empires-Globalization-Order/dp/1403936390/ref=sr_1_3?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1353789819&sr=1-3

I hope there are not too many typos in this comment.

Brillant, indeed. Thanks, Eric.

I'll add Deepak Lal's book to my list. I owe another friend a book review, yet. Trying to force myself to finish it up... ;)

Well written, Georg!

"American imperialism is not principled, it's fear biting, emotional, the raging of a bully with a DYSFUNCTIONAL LIVER. "

Could that be the reason for America's jaundiced attitude toward parts of the world? :)

Eric, there is another aspect to the whole malaise: it's a huge industry and exceedingly profitable for many people. It makes low income guys earn more than they could otherwise, and it makes medium und high income guys earn more - risk adjusted (leaving aside those involved in direct combat.) There seems to be a considerable premium in the remunaertaion of American military personnel compared to German soldiers, the poor wretches.

Most of my neighbours are Americans working as soldiers or as civilians for the military; they live in expensive houses, drive expensive cars, motorcycles, generally enjoy a high standard of living - courtesy of imperialism.

Otherwise, Eric, I am working toward a dysfunctional liver under the pretext of having to cure a cold with tea and rum.

"...we have enemies there and we need to remove them, liberate the people and convert them to the proper way of thinking along the lines of Western Parliamentary Democracy..."

The above phrase is what caught my eye. Of course the United States has enemies all over. That's because we try to "convert" them to our way of thinking. Use Afghanistan as a prime example. How can you convert a person or a country, any country, ie the Middle East, China, Afghanistan, or any of the others who hate us, who have lived by a different philosophy for hundreds of years. You can't "remove" gov't and "liberate" people who don't want to be liberated. It also costs money to "liberate" and convert." Money is one thing the United States doesn't have.

There are countries out there that hate us and all the taking of their gov't by force and substituting our gov't for theirs does is breed more haters. Again, I bring up Afghanistan. What is going to happen over there once all the US troops have "withdrawn?" How can you "convert" somebody to our way if they don't want to? The minute the troops leave Afhanistan, the Taliban, Al-Queda, or some other terrorist organization de jour is doing to pop up and it will be business as usual. Everything we have tried to do will be undone.

We are not the nation's police force, and as such, we don't need to be taking over countries and trying to impose our will on the people who hate us. If there are people who are okay with that, then perhaps the blue helmets of the UN coming into Brittain or the United States would serve as a reinforcement of how other countries feel when we try to "liberate" and "convert" those countries.

Good points. Thanks, Chris.

"How can you "convert" somebody to our way if they don't want to?"

Ron Paul handles this question pretty good by suggesting trade over invasion. Voluntary trade makes people open to ideas whereas invasion or sanction rallies people to causes and steels their resolve.

I would note that tolerance for other religions has been driven out of these countries, too, further solidifying a certain singular mindset. Sometimes, it almost seems as if we are doing everything possible to create an enemy to fight.

"If there are people who are okay with that, then perhaps the blue helmets of the UN coming into Britain or the United States would serve as a reinforcement of how other countries feel when we try to "liberate" and "convert" those countries."

Wouldn't it be something to experience one of their peacekeeping missions on our shores? For the imperial cheerleader, however, it's peacekeeping for thee but not for me.

I'm a big believer in the "voluntary trade" method of "conversion". The conversion might not be complete, but it can make friendly acquaintances out of enemies, and with a little time turn them into friends.

I remember--as a 10 year old--when Nixon opened the doors to China. In some ways--to the extent that American "exceptionalism" is something to be striven for--we did China just about right--and we didn't need to fire any shots to do it.

Youngsters will forget how tense the relationship between the U.S. and China was. But once the doors were opened, we've been on a pretty clear trajectory toward a time when we are intimately connected with China, and while we may occasionally disagree on some things, the cooperation between the two countries is pretty significant--primarily because of trade.

We have not had to go into China (thank goodness), guns blazing. Because of trade--and the example we set--their society has become increasingly freer, and increasingly more westernized (for better or worse). And it's happened not by force, but by a movement of their society.

Too often, we're in too much of a hurry to "convert", I think. Patience, friendship with many, and the setting of a good example would, I suspect, lead to voluntary movement in the direction of freedom--spurred on by citizens who see the benefits of freedom. As it is--as several of you have suggest--even the most repressive regimes seem able to stir up anti-American sentiment because of our ongoing blatant interference.

Well said, Laura. As Fredric Bastiat opined, "When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will."

Do you think that Ron Paul can reach his son in this respect? Or is Rand too busy putting his finger to the wind? While on the subject, it's be nice to read your thoughts in the form of a post on Rand's prospects in 2016.

I'll post something about Rand's prospects one of these days--although I've been imploring folks here in Nebraska to keep their powder dry on the '16 presidential race, and to focus on getting legislators and state constitutional officers elected in '14. Far too much is unknown about '16, yet, and I have some recollection of some of us looking at one Mark Sanford as a possible Ron Paul replacement after the '08 election...

Person 1 from the debate here. I originally wasn't going to carry on any further with this but after Mrs. Ebke sent me the link and I read all of the comments that had been posted on this article I felt like I should say at least one more thing.

Before I begin I would like to make clear that I am not a Libertarian and that I am a Traditional Conservative in fact I oppose Libertarianism for the most part. I would also like to say that I acknowledge that Imperialism is a dirty word in our politically "correct" society and that it is in my view a conservative policy. In fact I first began to openly call myself a supporter of Imperialism after I debated a Communist who called me an "Imperialist Pig".

For all the bashing on the British Empire I have seen here I would like to say that it is to my understanding that you all as Libertarians highly value private property and companies. Are you then aware that much of the British Empire's success can be attributed to private enterprise? The East India Trading Company in India, the Da Beers Mining Corporation in South Africa, and the Hudson Bay Company in Canada. In fact the British East India Company was the government in India before it became the British Raj under the official authority of the crown.

Georg Thomas: You say that I have allegedly taken the same stance as Hitler? I reject that claim for several reasons.

1: Hitler aimed to conquer the world, I only wish for America to be the major player in the world. Not the master of the world.

2: Hitler was a vicious racist whose entire policy was based around his virulent anti-semitism.

Just a couple of quick comments: you seem to misunderstand libertarian (NOT Libertarian, which is the Party, rather than the philosophy) ideas of private property. Most libertarians that I know do, indeed, value private property. But the question is--with respect to the examples you've provided--what gave the British (or the companies) the right to the property that they benefited from? Did they purchase the property, or did they take it? What you're referring to is not free-trade, but rather a mercantilist policy.

You're going to have to define "traditional conservative"--many of us in the libertarian Republican camp consider ourselves the "traditional conservatives"--the problem, of course, with these labels. Are you a Burkean conservative (Edmund Burke), or are you a constitutionalist conservative, or a classical liberal (which is where many conservatives from the mid-20th century placed themselves)? What political philosophers would you say define your views?

Thanks, Person 1, and hats off for your courage to continue the debate against a front of opponents. I am prepared to continue discussions with you in a spirit of respect and civility, which seem to be your inclination too.

As for 1: The ethos is the same. Right is what we decide is right, absolutely and unconditionally. The dreadful rest is a question of material feasibility (resources, balance of power etc).

As for 2: the widely spread presumption against Muslims, Arabs and other undifferentiated generic ethnic and sociological classes that is so easyly applied to instigate feelings of hatred and support of illegitimate aggression does strike me as possessing a racist quality.

In fact, anyone wishing to wage war is likely to engage in collectivist discrimination(of which racism is a sub-class)of the enemy or individual segments of the enemy population .

Even in my militarily less ambitious Germany, there are many people who would support the killing of human beings on the mere suggestions that they are Taliban. Hurrah, gotch ya!

Random but rather pertinent posts relating to the delta of issues that we are discussing here:

http://redstateeclectic.typepad.com/redstate_commentary/2008/06/taliban-agreed.html

http://redstateeclectic.typepad.com/redstate_commentary/2011/12/it-is-an-eerie-aspect-of-the-modern-public-discourse-just-how-facile-we-often-are-in-our-judgements-on-matters-of-life-and-de.html

I wish I had an efficient filing system to retrieve the pertinent past posts on the many issues we have covered.

Mrs. Ebke: By Traditional Conservatism, I mean to say that I tend to agree with the party establishment on most issues. I do not know if any of you would consider him a philosopher or not but I would say that my views have been influenced mainly by gentlemen such as Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and although it is not very popular to say these days I support Todd Akin too. I have heard of Burke and classical liberalism, I have a fairly good understanding of classical liberalism but you would have to explain Burke and his ideas a bit more to me.

On the issue of acquisition of land by the various British Companies. The Hudson Bay Company arrived in Canada with legal ownership to the land and traded with the natives without bloodshed. Da Beers Mining Corporation is a bit more mixed as they had bloodshed and conflict but they also worked with the African tribes it really depends on which African tribe we are discussing some were peaceful and helped others resisted.

In India the company under Lord Clive conquered the land and the company actually was the government of India until 1857 when the Indians revolted and the companies private army failed to put it down which led to the direct rule of India by the British government leading to the British Raj. I should also note that Ghandi praised the British Empire. Also in response to your comment that Imperialism is anti-American. I would like to say that John Adams who anticipated in his own words the "Transfer of the great seat of Empire to America." Or Thomas Jefferson who refereed to America as an "Empire of Liberty" and openly desire to annex Canada. After the Mexican-American war James K. Polk stated that he "added to the United States an immense Empire." Dinesh D'souza director of "Obama's America 2016" actually praised the British Empire for all it has given us.

Georg Thomas: I am sure there are many people who would support the killing of Taliban members but that cannot be equated to racism as the Taliban is an organization of radical islamists and not a race. Same goes for Muslims in that they are a religious group not a race. I would not say that the discrimination if it does in fact exist is against arabs or muslims in general rather I would say that it is against the extremists muslims who hate the US simply because of our western way of life. I do not believe that wishing to wage war results in discrimination as I would say that it is a fair thing to say that most Americans wanted war with the USSR we only didn't do so due to MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) but those Americans were not biased against Russians (or any other group that composed the Eastern Bloc) we hated their ideology, we hated Communism not the people themselves. Same for the Middle East, we hate the ideology of radical islamists we do not hate the Arabs simply for being Arabs.

There are many people who would argue that the "Party Establishment" is about as far away from "traditional conservatism" as you can get. Neoconservatism is NOT "traditional conservatism." It is a philosophy based on militarism--originally formed by former Communist academics who "saw the light" in a manner of speaking. Traditional conservatives--whether Reagan conservatives, Goldwater conservatives, Taft conservatives, Buckley conservatives or even Eisenhower conservatives were far more in line with a Burkean/Lockean view of the world--at least in what they said. They valued liberty--true liberty--and believed that conflict (especially armed conflict) should be avoided if at all possible.

Remember, Reagan was able to "beat" the Soviet Union, and win the Cold War without any extended military engagements around the world. Even so, 11 years after 9/11, has our Global War on Terror been effective? We've "fought" this war longer that WWI and WWII and Korea combined. If militarism were the answer, with the might we've got, shouldn't we have won by now?

Finally, I'd be careful about challenging Georg Thomas on Hitler. As a German national, he's probably got a better sense of that than we do...

A little information on Edmund Burke: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke

We're going to disagree about "legal ownership" of 18th/19th century colonial "properties." The question is still one of who granted legal deed to the British (or any other colonial power), to give away. If I come and take your house, and claim it as my own while you're away, then do I have the moral authority to grant title to someone else? Regardless, today is much different, and the notion of imperialism is much different. We're no longer talking about the "New World" where no boundaries have been drawn by the indigenous peoples--rather, we're talking about imposing our will--essentially declaring war--on sovereign states. That's in direct contradiction to the Treaty of Westphalia, which established the rules of International Law as we've known it for the last 400 years.

By all rights, any time that we decide to "intervene" in a country's internal affairs (or to attack groups within the boundaries of a state, without the explicit permission of the state), we are in violation of International Law. Just because we *can* do it, doesn't mean that we *should*, from a moral perspective, does it?

I had no idea he was a German national for the record. In light of the statement I made about Traditional Conservatism earlier, after reading what you've had to say on that I would say it is more accurate for me to define myself as an Establishment Conservative. Religious Right would also describe my views.

As for International Law, I respect the idea and concept of war crimes and I firmly believe that there should be such laws regulating the rules of war. However when it comes to trade or whether one country should be allowed to invade another is a entirely different story. I have no soft spot in my heart for the UN (in fact it is one of the reasons the British Empire collapsed in my opinion.)

In fact there was a fellow on Fox News not long back discussing how when he asked UN bureaucrats what they (the UN as a whole) defined as terrorism- they could not reply. In fact when the man showed them the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of terrorism they (the UN) claimed that they Merriam-Webster Dictionary had a "biased view". Why? Well for starters the UN has plenty of terrorist sponsoring states in it, so I would imagine they are too afraid to define what terrorism is. Point is most of the International Laws are from UN resolutions, I oppose any international body that attempts to regulate the politics of a sovereign nation. The only International Law that the US should recognize would be those pertaining to how war ought to be fought.

Well, I'll grant your label as Religious Right (or as Establishment Conservative--although I'm not exactly sure what that is, from a philosophical/ideological point of view).

International Law far pre-dates the creation of international organizations like the U.N. Indeed, some of the earliest examples of International Law have their understanding of the medieval (and earlier) Catholic Church, and the concepts of Just War (jus bellum) posited first by St. Augustine, and later by St. Thomas Aquinas. I have little use for the United Nations, but believe that any society--whether a family, a community, or a state, or a country, or the world--has to have some rules or norms of behavior for its members. Sometimes those rules are written and agreed to in treaties--in other instances, it becomes just "the way things are done in civilized society." Here's a good source on the history of International Law which I give to my International Relations students if they want to get deeper (but not TOO deep) than the textbook goes: http://www.oup.com/uk/orc/bin/9780199565665/evans3e_ch01.pdf

I find it interesting that you "oppose any international body that attempts to regulate the politics of a sovereign nation"--but that you seem to have no problem with one sovereign nation attempting to destabilize the politics of a sovereign nation. Whether we agree with what they're doing or not, that's what we've been doing, isn't it?

When we destabilize that other nation's politics. We are only doing so in defense of our interests. We are also providing them with a new stable political system to replace the one we got rid of. The reason I oppose the idea of international bodies regulating what one sovereign nation does with another is due to my religious beliefs. In the Book of Revelation it speaks of a one world government. Therefore in my view we should not allow organizations like the UN to limit what her members can or cannot do. For example the UN gun ban proposal is a horrible idea because of how it tries to control what sovereign nations attempt to do. There is a major difference between the US being the major player on the world stage and attempting to control the world. That is an immense gap. I oppose the idea of any country trying to control the world. However I advocate certain countries like The United States and the British Empire before her bettering the world through being the major player on the global stage.

"I only wish for America to be the major player in the world. Not the master of the world."

Yes, things will work out just as you wish because that is your desire. Yet, when we are master you will then say you had the best intentions at the time...

"Hitler was a vicious racist whose entire policy was based around his virulent anti-semitism."

Hitler may have hated Jews, but he used that stance to solidify his power base. Fascism usually contains an element of majority race (majority vs minority) vs that of communism which plays upon majority class envy. So, Hitler's stances were based on nationalism, not simply antisemitism.

"I would like to say that it is to my understanding that you all as Libertarians highly value private property and companies."

Libertarianism is the concept wherein anyone should be free to do anything he or she wants, as long as he or she does not commit acts of force or fraud against any other peaceful person.

The companies mentioned above did indeed possess an element of trade and private enterprise. But there was also the element of mercantilism which was rampant in the British Empire (BE). That is where the libertarian would disagree with your examples.

For instance, an Indian couldn't legally boil seawater to make salt due to the India Salt Act. Who benefits from that use of force? Those who controlled the monopoly on salt - a monopoly held in place through legislative fiat. So, I wouldn't favor a company that did this.

"John Adams who anticipated in his own words the"

Is this the same Adams who initiated the alien and sedition act? Why do I get the feeling you would like to see that return?

"Thomas Jefferson who refereed to America as an "Empire of Liberty"

Not only did he not annex Canada, he was fine with letting several northern states vote on secession, believing that they had the right to do it if they so chose: "If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union or to change its republican form," the author of the Declaration of Independence said, "let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

I would translate Jefferson's empire of liberty as one where people were free of tyranny, not bombed and forced around by your conservative philosophy.

"Same goes for Muslims in that they are a religious group not a race."

Are Jews a religious group or a race?

"The reason I oppose the idea of international bodies regulating what one sovereign nation does with another is due to my religious beliefs"

Pray, what is this violent religion you follow?

"For example the UN gun ban proposal is a horrible idea because of how it tries to control what sovereign nations attempt to do."

But if enough people believe it's OK to use such force to take away guns, then they must be right, eh? Maybe they can pull up old quotes of dead presidents to further enhance their aggression? Or maybe they see it as bettering the world?


"The United States and the British Empire before her bettering the world through being the major player on the global stage."

Only through free trade, not military force and crony capitalism, would I agree with you here. Such was not the case with the BE or with what the U.S. is doing presently. I guess this is what makes me a libertarian vs whatever label you wish to apply to your gun-pointing ways. I must admit, however, that you and your ilk have the upper hand. Of course, truth is determined by majority vote.

I am a Lutheran which is far from violent. I would not say that just because a substantial amount of people believe in something that it is good. For example in Colorado the majority of the population was in favor of the legalization of marijuana (which I might add I staunchly oppose) but does that mean that it is good simply because the majority of the folks in Colorado voted for? Of course not.

Also the majority of countries across the globe oppose the UN gun ban. The majority of UN decisions are composed by liberal internationalist bureaucrats within the UN. Not by the people who compose its membership. How is it that the US or the British Empire had to supposedly use violence to better the world? In fact the British Empire followed Gordon's Imperial Rule which stated "If you would rule over native peoples, you must love them." In India Sir Charles Napier abolished the violent practice of Widow Burning. Do these sound violent to you? I certainly do not think so. Even Ghandi made favorable comments about the British Empire in 1915 when he said "It gives me the greatest pleasure.... to re-declare my loyalty to the British Empire.... I discovered the British Empire had certain ideals with which I had fallen in love, and one of those ideals is that every subject of the British Empire has the freest scope for his energies and honour and whatever he thinks is due to his conscience. I have more than once said that the government is best that governs least; and I have found that it is possible for me to be governed least by the British Empire."

I don't see how an Empire can ever sufficiently fund its "armed forces" a la the quote:


PERSON 1: I personally believe that the problem arose when the British began spending so much on costly wars that they could no longer afford to maintain order abroad. The Boer War was a fantastic embarrassment for the Empire when they lost despite spending millions of pounds on the conflict. WW1 and WW2 were both victories but practically emptied Her Majesty's Treasury. It would appear in my opinion that the problem that led to the demise of the Empire was its inability to properly fund it's armed forces to put down colonists in the various colonies around the world following WW2. The depression also played a part in this. Not just war.


The independence of the United States, for example, is a case of "inability to fund" the Empire after the Seven Year's War in the American theatre. Before that war, there was the policy of Salutary Neglect. After said war, there was the policy of open trade. In the between, the British tried to collect taxes and house soldiers in colonist homes. Then there was a rebellion.

The problem with Empire is that it is easy to overreach. It's easy to be spread thin. It's easy to be too optimistic of power projection. As the most powerful and influential, it's tempting to think every little project as a bit too simple or less costly than it actually is. As huge lumbering entity, foreign policy is subject to the diseconomies of scale and to internal political power struggle of bureaucrats and careerists on large scales.

The Empire is full of contradictions.
It is self interested economics. It is selfless spread of civility.
It is unified imperial action. It is individual careerist initiative.
It is self funded venture. It requires huge amounts of taxation.
It is benign rule. It requires brutal repression.
It brings the benefits of trade. It prohibits local capital development.

The build up of debt as picture is a example of imperial innovation. It uses banking and the sale of government debt to funds its temporarily unsustainable government action, in this case Imperial military action. Such debt in theory should be paid out, but now it just build and build until the government cannot borrow anymore. Before the innovation of sovereign banking or when the innovation of sovereign banking fails, governments uses coinage, clipping, and gold sales to fund empire. The political elite raided wealthy rivals and confiscated from unpopular segments of its citizenry. It pillaged captured citizenry and sacked enemy cities. Such activity of course is even less sustainable than borrowing.

"I am a Lutheran which is far from violent."

Then, from a layman's perspective, you are not a good Lutheran.

"I would not say that just because a substantial amount of people believe in something that it is good."

I was being sarcastic. Truth is definitely not determined by majority vote.

"Gordon's Imperial Rule"

Really? Do you truly believe that love was the basis for imperial rule? Such claptrap is convenient cover for rule over others.

I am well aware of the practices of Sati and how it was suppressed by Britain. It was suppressed by other governments before good old non-violent Britain did it.

The empire also sucked the wealth from their satellite countries, killed many innocent people, started wars, and pressed people into the armed services.

Regarding your Gandhi quote, is this the Gandhi who was for non-violence or the one who, during one of the Kaffir Wars, volunteered to organize a brigade of Indians to put down a Zulu rising? He also supported the Boer War and World War I, saying “I would make India offer all her able-bodied sons as a sacrifice to the empire at this critical moment. . . .” , further declaring that Indians “have always been warlike.” Gandhi eventually had this to say about Britannia: “The British empire today represents Satanism, and they who love God can afford to have no love for Satan.”

Also, Gandhi approved of the Nawab of Maler Kotla's orders to kill 10 Muslims for every Hindu killed. He also liked Subhas Chandra Bose, a favorite of the Nazis and the Japanese, who in Singapore organized an Indian National Army with the hopes of creating an Indian dictatorship. He even wrote once that "Hitler is not a bad man". Gandhi was also obsessed with bowel movements and rabidly against education, forbidding his sons schooling and keeping his wife illiterate. He hated technology and its advances.

Let's relax our focus on this aggrandized fellow, and rather on what happened when the empire pulled out: the Independence Massacres. While Gandhi shrugged his shoulders with indifference, thousands of lower castes were killed by the higher castes once the British were no longer there to keep the peace. But this is where my argument would be that keeping peace is quite different than the creation of harmony within societies. That is the goal of libertarianism rather than justifying some violence because it's "better" than some other violence. It may seem like a pipe-dream in a world of militaristic notions but it is a worthy goal, imo.

P1, I will cheerfully give you the last word, if you want it. Write a reply to your heart's content because I've given you all the typing time that I care to give to romantic notions of foreign rule. Happy Holidays.

Good to see your writing again, TanGeng. Very well written, indeed.

Eric: I never stated that I support Ghandi. In fact I hate the Ghandi that is known by much of the world today due to his anti-Imperialism in later life. In respect to his quote in which he claimed that no one who loved God could love the British Empire. Did Ghandi no God? Of course not he was a Hindu. So he obviously held no love for God in his heart. He was a Hindu, not a Christian or a Jew and as such his quote pertaining to God has no relevance since he would not have the slightest of ideas about what God or Christianity is about. As a Jew myself, I loathe his to be blunt, idiotic quote about Hitler. I only quoted Ghandi to show that in his younger (perhaps more intelligent days) he supported the Empire. Are you aware that Americans paid more taxes after the revolution than they did under the Empire? Or are you also aware that Americans actually had better law and order under the Empire than after the revolution? I firmly believe in Gordon's Imperial Rule and in the Empire, my family helped build the British Empire and my great grandfather was Knighted for his prominent role as a member of the Board of Directors for the Hudson Bay Company.

Tangeng: In response to your belief that Empires cannot sufficiently fund their armies. The British did. It was not a lack of funding in their armed forces that led to their fall. The military was always (and still is) armed and equipped with state of the art technology. It was the Empire's refusal to allocate funds to certain armies to help put down violent colonials.

Apologies for the typo, did Ghandi know God? Is what I meant.

As for Gandhi's "younger (perhaps more intelligent days)", I suspect most of us would argue that they were his younger, more impetuous (perhaps even naive) days. I can't speak for everyone, but I do know that as I've gotten older, I wonder how I saw things as I once did...

As for building the British Empire, many of us can trace families back a bit, and can claim some nobility (or even royalty) in our blood. I can trace my line back to the Plantagenets, at least. But somewhere in the 16th or 17th century, my ancestors decided they like liberty--I suppose it was when the Church of England started oppressing the Puritans/Separatists (which many in my line were a part of), so we came to the New World.

Our history shows that Empire is dangerous--in much the same way that Plato showed us that absolute control is dangerous. The early Separatists came to America with the blessing of King James--but when leadership changes, the treatment of the colonies (especially) changes. Empires are sometimes benign--but they often become not-so-benign, for either the people of the ruling country, or the colonies. At what point does the cost become so oppressive to the taxpayers of America that it is no longer to our benefit to maintain the empire--if we assume that empire maintenance is in our best interest?

On the topic of family lineages. I might explain my reasoning for even bringing it up. The Empire is near and dear to my family and I was raised (and intend to raise my Children one day) with the same respect for the Empire and all it stood for. Our family only came here in the 1920's and as odd as it may sound I am only a second generation American, my Father being the first to actually be born in the US. He also "paid" our way in so to speak by fighting to prevent the spread of Communism to South Korea in the Korean War.

On my comment on Ghandi's younger days being perhaps his more intelligent days. I in no way meant to insult the older generations. In fact as odd as it may sound I actually prefer my candidates to be older. Since age is a sign of experience. I did not wish to imply that his youth made him more intelligent but rather that his views during his youth may have been more intelligent.

I do not see Empire as being dangerous, especially not in our history. Look at all the greatness Empire has brought the United States. Financial Success, Super Power Status, Innovation within the Private Sector, and spreading the word of God to various less fortunate Nations. To the point that in Mexico some people actually refer to Christianity as "The Religion of the United States". I would like to point out that in saying that, I am not suggesting that the US government endorses Christianity (the constitution forbids the government favoring any religion over another) but that most Americans are Christians and as such the religion of the US. We are also a Judeo-Christian nation in my view.


The American taxpayer was being oppressed way before we became our own Empire. Right after our revolution our taxes were higher than England's. During Washington's Presidency. Our Tax Code needs to be reformed there is no doubt about that. I personally favor the Fair Tax.

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Is it possible that our taxes right after the Revolution were higher than England’s because we were actually trying to pay off our war debt?  Just a thought.  As for American Empire, all I can say is that it’s not all about us.  Having the power to do something doesn’t make it right.  Just because it’s good for me doesn’t make it right for me to steal from you.

Frankly, I question our status as a “Christian nation”—we may be culturally Christian, celebrating Christmas and Easter, but our Christianity is not, I don’t think, living the Gospel of the Prince of Peace and the Golden Rule.  Jesus told us to evangelize, not to force; he told us to do to others what we would have done to us; he told us to sacrifice for the good of others, not to think just of ourselves. They always say that you should never talk religion and politics—and here we’ve done both.  Thanks for the discussion—I suspect that none of us have changed our minds, but it’s always good to at least hear what others are thinking, so that we can understand other sides, even when we don’t agree.   

For my final statement in this whole debate. I believe we, by following Imperial (or a majority of) Imperial policies, are doing exactly what Jesus taught. We (and the British before us) peacefully evangelized, we never attempted to force any people to accept Christianity. Gorden's Imperial Rule is an example of treating people the way we wish to be treated. One must love those they wish to rule over. We sacrifice for the good of those other people in that as you have all suggested our attempts to civilize them requires money which comes in the form of tax dollars. In spending all of this money to help civilize the world, we are sacrificing for the good of others.

As we have told each other many times before, I am afraid we have to agree to disagree on this issue.

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The whole notion of “civilizing” civilizations that existed long before the British Empire, or the American “Empire” is offensive.  Is it any wonder that they hate us with arrogance like that?  That is not “love for those we wish to rule over”—it’s a paternalistic, holier-than-thou attitude, which demands that people conform to a culture different than their own if they want to be granted “rights.” 

For the libertarian, we recognize that “rights” are not ours to give; we recognize that rights are inherent to all humans by virtue of their humanity, and that the purpose of government is to protect those rights from infringement by others—not to do the infringing. 

You’ll have a hard time convincing me biblically where Jesus would have ever suggested that Christian nations should take over existing lands and peoples by force to “civilize” them.   

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