In his lifetime, my grandfather, Frank Munk, published three books and numerous articles on the intersection of economics and political science. The Economics of Force, published in 1941, was the first of those books. It was written roughly one year after the Munk family left Europe and arrived in the United States. I have published the Preface together with a few chapters to capture the key points he wanted to make.
Frank's other two books were:
Chapter 27: The Sword and the Spirit
The world is locked in the battle of centuries. Days may decide the fate of decades. The world is paying a terrible price for its weakness and blindness. Great and mighty nations have looked upon the destruction of the weak and humble and powerless without so much as lifting a finger to help. Occasionally, a voice has come through the invisible prison walls which have been immuring an ever-increasing area of Europe. The great and the mighty have been glad to keep what they had, to close their hearts and their minds. They pretended that life could go on unchanged; “They all fed the crocodile in the hope that the crocodile would eat them last.” One after another they became the crocodile's prey. First, the small and humble ones, then their neighbors, and in the end, great empires came crashing down in collapse. Selfishness has proven once more to be the unmaking of man, be it an individual or a country. “United we stand, divided we fall.” Democracies have been falling because they were divided, divided within and without. They had the choice of hanging together or hanging separately. They chose the latter.
A new world order is shaping. It will not be the world order of the new barbarians. Whatever the sufferings and however long the eclipse of human freedom may last, it will not be lost forever. You can push liberty temporarily into oblivion, but you cannot kill it. It may emerge in new forms, but the need for self-expression and self-assertion are so strong that they will ultimately triumph.
If anybody despairs in the face of the might of the new barbarism, the history of the Czech people is a living testimony to the eternal power of truth and freedom and the inevitability of its ultimate triumph. More than five hundred years ago, one of their martyrs, the defender of religious liberty, John Buss, was being put to death at the stake. His last words to his people were: “Seek the truth, hear the truth, learn the truth, love the truth, speak the truth, defend the truth even to death.” Two hundred years later, one of a long procession of exiles, John Amos Comenius, Bishop of the Bohemian Brethren, scholar and educator, after having been forced to leave his devastated, depopulated country with, in the words of the historian, “lands and fortunes confiscated, the Czech language proscribed, the faith of the Czech Brethren condemned, Czech Bibles and books burned,” exclaimed: “I, too, believe before God that, when the storms of wrath have passed, to thee shall return the rule over thine own things, Czech people.” The storms have come and gone.
Humanity is making another effort to bring to life again the ideal of freedom. In 1918, another exile, Thomas G. Masaryk, a great philosopher and humanitarian, led his people in their fight for freedom and independence. It was only after a long mental struggle that he advised his nation as follows: “I hold that we must resist evil always and in everything. The true humanitarian aim is to be ever on the alert, to overcome the old ideals of violence and heroic deeds and martyrdom, and to work with loving-kindness and wholeheartedly even in small things – to work and to live. In extreme cases, violence and assault must be met with steel and be beaten off so as to defend others against violence.” He concluded his account of the struggle with the words “Jesus, not Caesar.”
It is March, 1939. Another leader of the Czech people, another exile, Eduard Benes, the President of Czechoslovakia, raises his voice. “The so-called democracies are still asleep, but the leader of a small and humiliated people has the vision and the courage to say that there will be no peace, there will be no respite, there will be no order until the crimes that have been committed in Europe are wiped out, until there is again respect for the given word, until the idea of honesty – personal honesty and state honesty – is re-established, until the principles of individual and international liberty are secured, and until real courage takes command and requires that brute force must stop.” In his Democracy, Today and Tomorrow, he said: “I do not fear for the future of democracy. Neither do I fear a so-called catastrophe to Europe, through war or revolution. We hear very often the slogan that war or revolution in Europe will mean the end of human civilization. That is a mistake. Modern human civilization cannot be destroyed. One can destroy in one country, through war or revolution, some of the remarkable monuments of human culture and civilization, ancient and modern; but the present organization of the world does not allow anybody to destroy human civilization… The human spirit, in its great creative power, having saved in innumerable places the results of modern science, technology, and progress – material and moral – will continue in any case its great creative work. And we will rebuild, replace, reconstruct, and re-create the so-called modern civilization in new forms, which probably cannot have at once the same value and the same moral and material perfection as many of the destroyed monuments of the past. But the struggle in human society for the continuation of past culture and civilization and for future culture and civilization, will continue with the same noble results and the same great success which is, again, in the nature of the human spirit and the human personality… It is the continuation of the fight for a better society. That is the ideal of democracy. This ideal is something so high, so valuable, and so dignified that it is worth believing and living. It is worth being a democrat.”
The struggle for democracy has only begun. It may last years. It may last decades. It may never be lastingly won. Everlasting life can never be won, neither can any of the things that make life worth-while. Life is a continuous struggle for higher ideals. Ideals in the past have always won if they were really living, if they really stirred the hearts and souls of citizens. Our present task is to make democracy again a living adventure. If our generation has not lost the heritage of our forefathers, it will complete its task. If our generation is not sufficient, future generations will take up where we have left off and carry the torch of humanity onward.
Chapter 28: Castles in the Air
PROFESSOR STALEY has pointed out that technology is becoming more and more planetary, while politics are becoming more national. Nationalism once was a movement for unification, for the creation of larger economic areas. The same could be said of imperialism in its former stages. Later, nationalism, instead of being an element of unification became an element of division. It has reached its extreme in Nazism and Fascism. Race and State have become divinities. A movement that promised to help humanity attain its ideals has become a scourge for mankind. Nationalism has run its cycle. Now it is raining death and destruction on individual and nation. Racism and Statism, having destroyed the liberty of their own people, are destroying the liberties of other people. Force gone rampant, force boasting of its conquests and threatening those who have not yet come under its spell is an appalling spectacle. The open abuse of the weaker, the crushing of small nations whose only fault was that they had been minding their own business, is bad enough. It is even worse when force is masquerading behind false pretensions, when it is hiding behind slogans of a pretendedly benevolent order. A tyrant is bad enough; a tyrant disguised as a benefactor of mankind is the limit of human patience and endurance. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are raving wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”
The economy of force will be increasingly presented as an element of unification, will pretend to be superior to national boundaries and disputes, will be offered as a promise of a new era of peace. Like the old Roman god Janus, it has two heads: one of war and revolution, which is its true face; and another, a smiling one which appeals to the gullible and uninformed abroad and at home. At home it proclaims conquest and permanent revolution; abroad it offers trade and peace.
A system of force will never unify the world or even the continent of Europe. True peace and understanding cannot come through terror and secret police. It must be more than the absence of war. It can come about only through a community of ideals, a common civilization, and a common philosophy. Force is very effective - but not in the long run. Nazism and Fascism will never unite the continent of Europe. They are sowing the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The slave nations of Europe will never accept their fate. They may have to be silent for years, but the longing for freedom will live as long as there is a man or woman living. The longer and the more severe the oppression, the more terrible will be the awakening.
Europe has been put in jail; it will not stay there indefinitely. Jailors may destroy much of what man has achieved. They cannot create a new world. The old forms of the state may have to change. The choice is between a military superstate, such as the totalitarians are building now, and a democratic interstate, a community of free nations. It will not solve the present problem of national society versus planetary technology to make bigger states out of a number of smaller ones. Mechanical combination does not succeed. It will only make the problem worse. At best, we shall have intercontinental wars instead of international wars. The only alternative to bigger and better peace is bigger and better war, bigger and better revolution.
The attempts at organizing an effective international collaboration of peoples are not dead. They are only dormant. They will never be dead. It is utter foolishness to blame the League of Nations for the failure of the last peace. The trouble was that we had too little of the League of Nations. The League of Nations has been to the efforts of a new international world order what the Articles of Confederation were in the history of the American Commonwealth. We were too reluctant to give up something of our national sovereignty, with the result that today all of it is threatened. We have forgotten that giving is more fruitful than asking. The choice lies between military domination and voluntary federation on a basis of liberty and equality.
If humanity will have learned its bitter lesson, the sea of suffering and hopelessness through which we are wading today will not have been in vain.
There is no shortcut to peace. It cannot be bought. Only through hard labor, perseverance, and sacrifices, through international goodwill and collaboration shall we come nearer to the eternal hope of mankind: “the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.”
Many of these books are out of print but they can usually be found at used bookstores throughout the United States via Alibris.com.
27-1 Eduard Benes, Democracy Today and Tomorrow, Macmillan, New York, 1939.
Other chapters from The Economics of Force:
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