‘We want the people to take charge of the economy, which means that we have to get rid of the Federal Reserve, get rid of the income tax, let the people go to work, let the people keep what they earn, don’t violate their civil liberties, don’t violate their privacy, and don’t get involved in the affairs of other nations.’ ~ RON PAUL
When statements like this come across as extreme, or insane, it goes to show how special the situation in the USA (and the West in general) currently is. Calls to put an end to intrusive politics and toxic economics are falling on deaf ears. People deem them a utopia, the ramblings of an old fool. The notion of empire has taken over people’s lives to such an extent that no one can imagine a world where citizens are not taxed on their income, or monitored by intelligence agencies. No one can envision a world without foreign intervention, global tampering, and supreme advantage.
Let me be clear. Empire per se is not the problem. Some of the greatest achievements in history were made through empire. The notions of democracy, science, and trade were spread through a combination of pacifist and imperial means. Knowledge was spread in areas previously impervious to each other through marauding armies and occupying regimes. Alexander, Rome, the Vikings, the Normans, the British and the Chinese, the Ottomans, Byzantium, Spain, all of them great imperial players. They inflicted great suffering on the world through their acts of war, but they also expanded the reach of their systems, impregnating the world with innovative ideas, to each their own, cultivating new cultures, fresh and revamped ways of thinking. Life as we know it is a product of trade and conflict, debate and war, peaceful negotiation and violent exchange of perspective. No empire — bloody as it may be — less progress, simple as that. The world as we know it, the cultural and political and technological benefits we are enjoying today, we wouldn’t possess them. Agriculture, calculus, law, empiricism, chamber politics, commerce, food and art and polity and resources, none of it would have spread around the world, at least not in the way we have come to expect. It would have been less rapid, less efficacious and far less dramatic and impactful. Everyone would be stuck in their dated ways of thinking, to each their own, like cultures of bacteria in distinct Petri dishes, stuck in the stone age, or whatever age one chose to end their history.
The problem is not Empire. The problem is that we are walking on eggshells, afraid of our own shadow. We’re afraid to call the system by its name, striving to hold the high ground in a volcanic and dirty world. There is no high ground to speak of, save the one in our heads, and that’s how the trouble always begins, with people thinking they’re doing the right thing, the civilized thing. We inhabit a world of conflict where ideas are exchanged through peaceful or violent means, depending on the situation. On the game and players. There’s no perfect way of doing things, a civilized paradigm. It’s all relative, and the times we live in are way past the rational, pacifist marks set forth by the post-war generations. The tug-of-war has been taken up again. We are living in times of empire, but we’re afraid to call it by its name — Empire! — and act on it wholeheartedly. We’re failing to embrace it, ending up in no man’s land, caught between impotent leadership and bankrupt benevolence.
We are caught half way between imperial and rational states of being, accomplishing neither. We have to make a choice.
The way I see it is this, at least as far as the USA is concerned: either embrace the Ron Paul ideals, restoring the USA to a republic status: a sovereign country ruled largely by local authorities under a new federal consensus — perhaps an amended constitution — whereby the issues of the current era are addressed i.e. rewrite the social contract; or stick with the dominion route and up the ante, go nuts, but call it so. Tax the shit out of everyone to fund the machines of Empire, intervene wherever necessary, implement policy across the globe by any means possible, through diplomacy, the economy, or war, by right of reason, ownership, or conquest, and stop pretending to straddle the pacifist, benevolent path. We can’t have it both ways. It’s either a position of hegemony and global influence via a combination of hard and soft power, or a return to the Monroe doctrine, so to speak, for what it’s worth.
Of course one realizes that should US and Western troops in general be withdrawn from their positions around the world, the power vacuum will be phenomenal. Many countries will be destabilized. Some will be threatened by belligerent neighbors, and the whole power structure will shift in unpredictable ways. The globe’s players will take advantage of the situation, and some of them are eager to claw their way back into global prominence. Leave them to it and the world will not become more peaceful. If anything, the drums of war will start to pound. They already are, in the South China Sea, in Korea, in Ukraine, in Syria. These conflicts are not the sole responsibility of the USA, or the West. It takes two to tango and to make war. Those who blame only the West are by default wrong, or biased against it. Granted, our foreign policy needs to be reexamined, but this has to be done across the board, behind all borders. All players need to chill out. Unilateral withdrawal risks handing the initiative to the intransigent.
So, no, the idea of complete disengagement is not feasible. We are indeed children of empire, living in a world currently caught in the struggle between competing global players. No one in their right mind would call this an era of peace. Peace is not an option, not in this state of affairs, not without a price. There’s a brawl going on, an authority struggle. No one in their right mind would cede their hard-earned advantage, not without getting something substantial in return. A return to sounder politics can only be effected via spherical reform, from all sides. Without it the game has to be played out until there is a winner, or a stalemate, or some kind of resolution.
Until then, let’s heed the words of the USA’s last statesman, reminding ourselves how far we have strayed from entrepreneurial politics, keeping our sights on high standards — which are different from high horses. A grip is what we need, a handle and reference point to a way of doing things involving less conflict. The game of empire will be over sooner or later. We’ll have to return to a calmer state of affairs sooner or later, for a while anyway, and these words will guide the West home, where it may rest, where it can build a phenomenal future for itself, and others, too, by the power of its immense history and wealth.
To do so, we must exit the game from an advantageous position, if not the top one. Failure to do so and we risk entering a world whose rules have been written by others. There is no worse fate than that, living in a world whose rules were written by others. Wince all you like at this comment, I don’t see anyone rushing to be subject to other people’s fancies, no matter how democratic one is.
See, there is a difference between coming together to craft a better world and being out of the loop. Everyone knows this, to each their own. Everyone has an area in life where he or she is not in control, where someone else is, and it doesn’t feel too good.
Imagine living in a global arrangement decided by others, your entire life and continent subject to the whims and fancies of ideologies and bureaucracies you had no say in whatsoever. Something like today, only worse.
Interested in a sounder, fairer, less belligerent world, a world you can make a living in, perhaps even influence in some way? Make sure your side wins, then worry about the specifics.
From your prince-minded Spin Doctor,
Eyes open, mind sharp.
From the vaults (originally published in Aug 2015).
For the article that inspired this Spin Doctor piece, click here: http://bit.ly/1EUTVah