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 Power and Control

posted by Simon on 07.14.08 at 04:19 PM


I am all about "free market", just noting the lengths some go to get their "stuff for free".

Anonymous   ·  July 14, 2008 11:39 PM

Blind faith in the virtue of free markets does not take into account the manipulation of free markets. Manipulation of free markets is as anti-free market as is government intervention, although arguably more disasterous. Markets left unto their own with no rules will swing wildly from one extreme to the other, which tends to be highly disruptive. Markets with clear laws regulating behaviors tend to progress more stabally. Obviously the free market system works, and it is a great thing, but so many conservatives take the "laise faire" concept to such an extreme it is counter productive to their own goals.

As per the concept of "imperialism" as laid out above, you can "control" in many more ways than occupation and force. Controlling other societies through economic means will yield similar results to empire deterioration, albeit through politico-economic ends. If we are to call ourselves a christian nation, we must conduct ourselves as Christians, not economic imperialists.

GR Tennant   ·  July 15, 2008 1:06 PM


There is no corruption like corporations in cahoots with government. Only government can make permanent monopolies.

As to economic imperialism. Every nation that has joined the American system without reservation (South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, etc.) has profited from American economic imperialism. Associate members do less well. Non-members do poorly.

Our biggest imperial asset is American culture.

M. Simon   ·  July 16, 2008 3:26 AM

GR Tennant, I have some agreement, but your use of terms such as "blind faith" and "control" seem inflated, and thus, suspicious. These seem accusatory rather than measured, and I suspect you would find economic imperialism in many places.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  July 16, 2008 8:51 AM

According to the title comment: It might also be noted that we are the first empire to notice it is cheaper to buy than steal.

The Habsburgs noticed something similar: It is cheaper to marry than steal.

Joseph Hertzlinger   ·  July 17, 2008 1:30 AM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits