Monday, July 14, 2008

It's Cheaper To Buy Than Steal

Thought Mesh takes a look at why the left does not get the New American Empire.

In my view, what most of the declinists miss is that the American Hegemony is unlike any previous empire in its structure and means. The former British Empire is the closest, but it still depended on far more direct control than the American Hegemony. The USA has little need of directly dominating its client states, as empires have done in the past. The essential point is that liberal democracies empower the USA regardless of the actual attitude of the government. Even Old Europe is of net benefit to the USA, despite the overt hostility of its two largest states, France and Germany. This creates a dynamic of low effort, high reward that eliminates the problem of imperial overstretch.
The American Empire is specifically based on shared values (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) not on control. The idea being that if the members of the Empire each act in their own self interest it will produce the best possible outcome by reconciling those interests. Kind of like that Adam Smith invisible hand thingy.
Why do the declinists miss this? We could point out their fundamental hostility to the USA, but that’s not an interesting avenue to explore. While certainly part of the reason, it’s not the entire reason.

We can begin to see the root of it if we notice that the American Hegemony is local Anglosphere politics writ large. The Hegemony is much more like a village of free but cooperating people in the Anglospheric tradition than the various forms of despotism that formed the structure of previous empires. I think most of the declinists can’t see this because they come from a Leftist tradition that cannot envision a society of freely cooperating individuals and so have no model for the same thing among nations. As Adam Smith pointed out, a collection of free invididuals naturally benefit each other, via trade and other interactions. In the same way, a community of free nations (externally and internally) benefit each other without any need for explicit control. That is the missing concept that informs the declinists’ world view.
If you don't believe in a free market for individuals, it is kind of hard to envision a free market of states. Each acting in its own interest making the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts.

BTW the headline was stolen from the comments at Thought Mesh. Read 'em. There are some good points there.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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