The United States Has Become an Empire
Nearly sixty years ago, I was seated comfortably in the Morrison Library at U.C. Berkeley. Oblivious to the luxury around me, I was fascinated by an essay I was reading.
The essayist was reacting to the recent renewal of the old Basque separatist movement. He predicted that there would be many similar movements in the future. He proposed that several apparently stable countries will likely break apart. Indeed, such has subsequently happened, and the forces of disintegration continue. Witness Brexit.
Since that essay was written, Yugoslavia shattered into its Balkan constituents, with brutal war to follow. The Soviet Union collapsed into its many former republics, and the Eastern European countries regained their independence. Czechoslovakia then divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Eritrea broke off from Ethiopia. Today, the Kurds are trying to establish an independent Kurdistan, and Syria has bloodily disintegrated into its tribal regions.
And now Britain has voted to secede from the European Union.
Some definitions are useful. We commonly confuse country with nation and use the terms interchangeably. They may be the same, but often they are quite different, so one should be careful. A useful definition of nation is a large collection of people sharing a common culture, language, and territory. A nation may, politically, be a country, but the opposite is not necessarily true. Thus the confusion. Many so-called countries contain multiple nations. The classic example is China. China's peoples in different regions speak many languages, some completely unrelated. It has diverse cultures and religions and even genetically distinct groups. We conveniently call China a nation, but in reality, it is an empire.
An empire is a group of nations bound together by a centralized governing force and common laws. Thus, many countries are, in fact, empires. On a larger scale, the European Union, we now see, is an empire.
To understand why Britain is breaking away from the EU, we must look more closely at empires and nations. Each has its advantages and liabilities. There are centripetal forces that bring together nations and centrifugal forces that cause them to separate. History provides a record of the oscillations between these two conditions.
Historically, most empires are born in conquest. There are few cases of voluntary association creating empires. Ancient times gives us only the brief Athenian Empire. Modern times has given us the EU – which may be equally brief, and for much the same reasons.
Empires endure when their positives outweigh their negatives. Empires provide two major positives: security and prosperity. These are the centripetal forces. Empires collapse for many reasons; insecurity and impoverishment are the two most visible causes. But these are often merely the consequence of the more fundamental causes: corruption and tyranny.
Tyranny is the primary centrifugal force. People love liberty.
So why is Britain breaking away from the EU? After all, the EU promises prosperity. In reality, the imbalances in the various economies of the EU's constituent countries is stripping Britain of its prosperity. Money is draining away from Britain without significant compensation.
How about security? The influx of refugees and migrants caused by the Union's policy is rapidly erasing the very character of Britain. And as long as Britain remains in the EU, it can do nothing but accept the imposed flood of invaders – and thereby lose its national character.
But there is a deeper issue. The EU is progressively imposing true tyranny. The European Union has a parliament, but this body is powerless. It cannot propose laws. It cannot even effectively modify, or veto, laws proposed by an unelected committee without the committee's permission. The EU Parliament is merely a debating society.
The real power in the EU lies in the hands of unelected functionaries and bureaucrats. These institute laws and regulations that often override the laws passed by the member nations. The British Parliament is increasingly powerless. Some of the regulations imposed by the EU are comical: bananas and cucumbers must adhere to curvature standards. The English dearly love their electrical tea kettles, but these were temporarily outlawed. The tea kettle rebellion, all by itself, was a significant contributor to Brexit.
More appalling still, Brexit prematurely unmasked the true intent of the EU insiders. According to the June 27, 2016 issue of the London Daily Express:
The foreign ministers of France and Germany are due to reveal a blueprint to effectively do away with individual member states in what is being described as an "ultimatum".
Under the radical proposals EU countries will lose the right to have their own army, criminal law, taxation system or central bank, with all those powers being transferred to Brussels.
Controversially member states would also lose what few controls they have left over their own borders, including the procedure for admitting and relocating refugees.
In other words, the EU plans to abolish its constituent countries in all but name. Goodbye, Olde England! Brexit was just in time. Needless to say, other members of the EU are furious over the forthcoming coup, particularly the Eastern Europeans, who are finally breathing free after decades of Soviet Union subjugation.
What is transpiring in Europe is echoed, and even led, by growing political rebellion in the United States. Our prosperity has been crippled by high taxes and massive overregulation. In particular, our regulatory agencies, in many cases, have been captured by a fanatical Marxist faction.
Moreover, our borders effectively no longer exist, and we are being invaded by hordes of people who have no intention of assimilating into our culture. What is worse, this invasion is being sponsored by our own government – very much against the will of the people and against the requirements of the Constitution.
Let's examine these issues a bit more carefully, for they illuminate much of what is wrong with our government. Mostly, the U.S. Constitution specifies structures for governing. It also provides permissions for creating useful laws and, particularly through the Bill of Rights, protections against the government and for the individual. However, there is only one compelled obligation that the federal government must carry out. This is found in Article Four, Section Four. This section is the heart and soul of the Constitution. It compels two positive actions. It says:
The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.
I have underlined the two key requirements. Protection against invasion is clearly not being met. In fact, it is evident that the current administration is deliberately subverting this fundamental requirement of the Constitution.
The first requirement is also being subverted, but in a much more subtle way. All branches of the government are complicit in this subversion. A republican form of government implies that the people are the government and the people's elected representatives make the laws, both in the states, and in the federal government. And the laws are made in accordance with the Constitution. In almost all cases, this requirement no longer holds.
The overwhelming proportion of federal laws are administrative regulations. Technically, these are supposed to be reviewed by Congress, which has veto authority. In practice, Congress is swamped and almost always allows the regulations to go into force without examination. What is worse, many regulatory agencies have their own court system, supplemented by their own prosecutors. In other words, the agencies are police, prosecutor, judge, and jury – open and shut with little appeal. Increasingly these agencies are conducting prosecutions so egregious that the federal courts are stepping in to slap down the agencies. So that is one problem.
The problem of a president overstepping his authority and issuing blatantly illegal executive orders has long been noted. Congress lacks the courage to impeach.
But Congress, too, is guilty of tossing out Article Four. Few words in the complex laws that Congress passes each year are actually written by congressmen. Staffers and lobbyists compile the wording to suit themselves. I doubt that anyone in Congress knows what he is actually passing. Without our elected representatives making our laws, we are not a republic or a democracy.
Finally, the courts are many times also guilty of unconstitutional behavior. Several Supreme Court justices have arrogated to themselves the privilege of amending the Constitution to suit their political fancies. Many lower court judges have followed suit.
In short, with the invasion of non-assimilating invaders and rule by an unelected oligarchy, the United States is, in truth, a non-democratic empire. The form of the Constitution still endures, but the substance only rarely is operable. Today, the unelected center dictates to the periphery, and the people must obey.
No wonder we seek to regain our freedom and our Constitution. We seek this however we can.
People love liberty. Will our nation endure?