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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10502/the-republic-becomes-the-empire/

The Republic Becomes the Empire

August 21, 2009 by

A classic article from Garet Garrett:

We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night. The precise moment does not matter. There was no painted sign to say, “You now are entering Imperium.” Yet it was a very old road and the voice of history was saying: “Whether you know it or not, the act of crossing may be irreversible.” And now, not far ahead, is a sign that reads: “No U Turns.”

If you say there were no frightening omens, that is true. The political foundations did not quake; the graves of the Fathers did not fly open; the Constitution did not tear itself up. If you say people did not will it, that also is true. But if you say therefore it has not happened, then you have been so long bemused by words that your mind will not believe what the eye can see, even as in the jungle the terrified primitive, on meeting the lion, importunes magic by saying to himself, “He is not there.”

FULL ARTICLE

{ 18 comments }

Sonic Ninja Kitty August 21, 2009 at 9:06 am

Oh, dear Mr. Garrett, if only you could see us now….

Sword of Damocles August 21, 2009 at 9:06 am

And they shall thump their chests and declare what a valiant charge it was.

Just my thoughts,
SOD

The Comrade August 21, 2009 at 9:40 am

Magnificent reading. Trumps every other historical piece I’ve read yet. Mr. Garrett certainly understands poignancy.

Tyrone August 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

Remember, All Empires are bad. Expect for the Roman and British…which were good.

Joe Stoutenburg August 21, 2009 at 11:21 am

Perhaps we appreciate Garrett’s essay because we are inclined to. Yet I still must wonder how people unfamiliar with these subjects can react to gems such as this:

The president names the members of the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. It follows that if the president and a majority of the Senate happen to want a Welfare State, or any other innovation, and if, happily for their design, death and old age create several vacancies on the bench so that they may pack the Court with like-minded men, the Constitution becomes, indeed, a rubberoid instrument.

Can anyone find holes in this line of reasoning and still defend the so-called “checks and balances” of the Constitution?

christopher August 21, 2009 at 12:07 pm

SC Judges are appointed for life, so that very fact makes it difficult to make wholesale changes to the makeup of the court.??

BioTube August 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm

The number is set by law(read: whim of Congress), so packing the court’s not impossible.

2nd Amendment August 21, 2009 at 2:33 pm

What I find the most disturing is that judges make the law as opposed to apply the law. What I also find disturbing about the law is that it is highly politicized and changes from time to time at the whim of what’s socially, morally, religiously, psychiatrically and politically acceptable.

For example, smoking Pot was once legal, then it became illegal, then it became substance abuse disorder but now they are talking about making it legal again or under special circumstances.

Drinking alcohol was once legal, then came the prohibition, then they lifted the prohibition.

The law is flip-flopping more seriously on many issues than any democrat I can think of.

How can the law be taken seriously if it constantly changes it’s mood for no objective nor serious reason and mostly out of political opportunism ?

The law should be like mathematics or physics, it should rest on a solid foundation which withstands the test of time and which withstand challenge and each ramifications of the law should be built on scientific proofs which themselves stand the test of time and challenge.

In other words, the law should be scientific, not political. How can they claim it to be “justice” if it was good yesterday, bad today, and good again tomorrow.

If the law is to command respect, it should do so by being consequent, logical, objective and non-partisan. Force alone cannot command respect. Force only commands fear and subversion.

And the worse thing of them all are laws that punish behaviors which make no victims. The crime label should apply to behaviors that create non-consenting victims.

Russ August 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm

2nd Amendment wrote:

“…the law should be scientific, not political.”

That would be nice. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you believe that science is about determining facts, while the law is about values, and values cannot be derived from facts. Some people, like me, value personal liberty very highly, and construct a philosophy to rationalize their values. Others value material security or equality of outcome much more highly than individual liberty, and construct other philosophies to rationalize their values. But my philosophy will not convince a socialist, and a socialist’s philosophy will not convince me, because our philosophies are not (and cannot be) objectively true, and are based on opposed values. It will always be this way, because there are no objectively true “ought” or “should” statements. For instance, the statement “People ought to allow others to keep their own money” is not objectively true. It’s simply an outcome that I subjectively desire, but others subjectively don’t. Even if you could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that everybody would be materially better off in a system where all could keep their own money, that does nothing for a person who values equality of outcome. in a nutshell, scientific law is impossible.

2nd Amendment August 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Russ,

The old common law could serve as a solid foundation.

Russ August 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm

2nd Amendment wrote:

“The old common law could serve as a solid foundation.”

The common law tradition is based on the judge-made law that you said you dislike. Besides, there is nothing objective about English common law; it’s simply the traditional law of one culture among many.

Face it, there will always be honest disputes about which laws are just and which aren’t, because different people have different subjective values, and law is an attempt to encode and enforce subjective values, nothing else. There is no such thing as objective law. It’s just peoples’ way to try to shove their subjective values on everyone else.

2nd Amendment August 21, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Russ,

I face it, I’m just very uncomfortable with the idea that there can be no factual nor objective foundation to law otherwhize you fall into moral and judicial relativism which I think is equally flawed.

We are all quite similar to one another and we all have the same needs to preservation of life, preservation of physical integrity, preservation of health, sanity and private property and we all pursue happiness.

Surely there is some form of common basis that can address law in an objective and factual manner for all cultures and all beliefs.

Surely murder and robbery should objectively be outlawed and I cannot find any way to relativize them out of criminal existence.

Nate Y August 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm

One can’t legitimately speak of objective anything when human action is a factor. But this is not a problem.

Objective truth isn’t even all too good at convincing people. So…meh.

Nate Y August 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm

One cannot legitimately speak of objective anything when human action is a factor. But this is not a problem.

Cold, hard, objective, scientific truth isn’t even all too good at convincing people. So…meh.

Russ August 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

2nd Amendment wrote:

“Surely there is some form of common basis that can address law in an objective and factual manner for all cultures and all beliefs.”

Well, if you discover what that common basis is, you will be the most famous philosopher in the history of the human race. Please forgive me if I don’t hold my breath, though. ;-)

Gil August 21, 2009 at 10:09 pm

“The common law tradition is based on the judge-made law that you said you dislike. Besides, there is nothing objective about English common law; it’s simply the traditional law of one culture among many.”

Uh oh! Russ sank 2A’s battleship!

The final arbitrators in a idyllic anarchist world are the private landowners. Private landowners get to make rules and charged fees for those who want to stay on their land and the tenants get the boot if they won’t cooperate. There’s no mediation between private landowner versus a landtenant – love it or leave it. There’s only mediation between private landowner and another private landowner. However is anarchism is really anarchist then there’s no final arbitrator that either private landowner must abide and they can keep mediating between each other until one goes broke or fight each other until they both destroy each other.

Gernot Hassenpflug August 25, 2009 at 8:31 pm

2nd Amendment wrote:

“I face it, I’m just very uncomfortable with the idea that there can be no factual nor objective foundation to law otherwhize you fall into moral and judicial relativism which I think is equally flawed.”

Philosophers have been arguing for thousands of years about whether morality exists at all as an independent or absolute concept, and similarly whether justice exists, and whether a society can be built that is moral and just.

Personally, I find that the idea of absolute knowledge is mistaken and leads to the mistaken idea of the possibility of absolute prediction and control.

A much more reasonable, to me, concept is that of living in a world in which not much can be known accurately for very long, although that “not much” and the limits of “accurately” are for practical purposes pretty darn good. Knowing these limitations, yet working to extend them, gives all the benefits of scientific philosophy without the problems of mistaken unlimited power.

Independence April 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Got it! Thanks a lot again for hlpenig me out!

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