War is the mother of the state.
On Dec. 7, 1941 — ‘a date which will live in infamy’ — until the fall of the Berlin Wall, America and the West were engaged in total, existential war, ‘guerre a outrance.’ In times of total warfare, the citizens of a republic delegate far more power to their elected officials — their national government — than usual.
We know that we, the people, cannot prosecute a war nor subject tactical execution to the slow deliberations of the republican process. So however (understandably) jaundiced a view we take of the FDRs, the LBJs, the Nixons and Fords — autocrats all — they are a lesser evil than the Hitlers and Stalins, and so we tolerate them and hand over our great power, willingly.
But on Nov. 9, 1989 — a day that should live in fame — a half-century of war ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Peace dawned. Soon after, prosperity — and federal budget surpluses — followed.
Until Sept. 11, 2001. Not knowing the scope of our adversary, and not yet having emerged from our war acculturation, America returned to a war footing.
As it turned out, the danger, while real and while deserving to be taken seriously, turned out to be asymmetrical, rather than mortal. We could be hurt, but neither our existence nor way of life is threatened by any known or imaginable adversary.
Citizens, beginning with MoveOn.org and continuing with the Tea Party, and, perhaps, Occupy, started to organize and mobilize by the millions to take power back from the officials to whom we have delegated it.
We are in process of taking our power back. The political consequences of the peace? The end of the Warfare/Welfare State. This is inevitable. The only question is how long and costly will be the struggle.
The officials are not happy to surrender their power, their prestige, their position and their perks and be demoted from the position of our lordly leaders spending — what a blast! — trillions of our dollars — to our mere representatives.
But they did not take the power. We gave them the power. We are taking it back. They will resist, of course, but the power is ours, not theirs; we will use ballots, not bullets, to reclaim it.
The sooner we understand the political consequences of the peace the faster and more gracefully will the restoration of America to its small-‘L,’ small-‘R’ liberal-republican foundations proceed.
And as an important grace note, may I add that an early of victim of total war has always been the gold standard, which eagerly is restored to facilitate the prosperity associated with peace at the earliest opportunity.