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 1: The Unseen Revolution
WORLD REVOLUTION HAS BEEN going on at full blast for the last seven years. Only in the last few months, however, have its outlines become apparent, and very few people in the United States or elsewhere yet realize the full scope of its impact.
The crisis through which the world is passing today has been called a war. Much more appropriately it should be called a revolution-political, social, economic, moral, and religious. The so-called war between Germany and England and France is only one phase of a worldwide revolutionary movement the purpose of which is to destroy the heritage of a great civilization.
The real aims of this revolution have for many years been hidden behind a smoke screen, set up in order to blind the eyes not only of the great masses in other countries but of their leaders as well. Behind this screen preparations have proceeded at a hectic pace, all with the one goal in mind: to transform the face of the earth. In different countries the revolution has been given different names. In Germany, it has been called National Socialism; in Italy, it is called Fascism; in Japan, it is at the root of the New Order in Asia; in Spain, it is Falangism. In some countries, it started as a conservative or reactionary movement, but very soon the revolutionary forces gained the upper hand. In many countries it promised to serve as “a bulwark against Bolshevism,” but it must be clear to everyone that the two main streams of world revolution, Communism and Nazism, are not enemies but competitors. Revolution has developed into a competitive business. Both major revolutions, together with their junior partners, have first to destroy whatever remains of social and economic order. The division of spoils may be left to the future. The primary guiding principle of every revolution is destruction, and the world has rarely witnessed an orgy of destruction equal to that which has been going on during the past few years.
It is well to point out that a twentieth-century revolution is not necessarily fought out in the streets. Just as the technique of everything else has changed, the technique of revolution-the biggest business of the present period-has changed. It has become a science, a complicated mechanism that does not rely on the masses but on efficient, expert preparations. Revolutions today are not made from below. They can be made only from above. All that is required is a systematic infiltration of reliable and trained men into the basic posts in government, business, public services, transportation, and communication. A clear description of this procedure may be found in the writings of an Italian Fascist, Curzio Malaparte. His Coup d' Etat is a handbook of revolution that should be read by anyone who wants either to foster or to frustrate a revolutionary uprising. His description of the methods that have been used by Trotsky in Russia, by Mussolini in Italy, as well as those used by Stalin to prevent a coup d'etat should be compulsory reading for anyone interested either on the positive or on the negative side. Says Malaparte in quoting Trotsky: “Insurrection is not an art, it is an engine. Technical experts are required to start it, and they alone could stop it.”
It is worthwhile remembering that revolution to many of its present proponents is more than a temporary emergency resorted to at the last moment. There is a wide-spread belief, especially among the Nazis, that humanity has to be kept in a constant turmoil, in a never-ending revolution, to prevent any calming down and thus make society a pliable clay in the hands of men who have the courage to take over the destiny of humanity. To quote Hitler's words: “The revolution cannot be ended. It can never be ended. We are motion itself, we are eternal revolution. We shall never allow ourselves to be held down to one permanent condition.” Or, as he says later: “Externally I end the revolution. But internally it goes on, just as we store up our hate and think of the day on which we shall cast off the mask and stand revealed as those we are and eternally shall remain.”
Future historians will have difficulty in explaining how it was possible that the conservative classes of most of the so-called capitalistic countries for so long a time misunderstood Nazism. There have been many influential businessmen and wealthy property owners, and there may still be some who regard Nazism as an insurance against Bolshevism. This certainly was true of a very influential group in France and in England. What has been called the English ruling class remained completely blind to the real nature of Nazism. Months after the storm broke over England, there was still an almost complete lack of understanding of the true nature and of the potentialities of German National Socialism. Let anyone who doubts this read Sir Neville Henderson's Failure of a Mission: Berlin, 1937-1939, the memoirs of a man who served as British ambassador to Berlin in the fateful years when clouds were gathering over Europe, and though he knew all the main characters in the play, he knew nothing, absolutely nothing, of the social forces operating behind the scene. The fact that Hitler has been able to conceal the universal revolutionary aims of his movement and sell it as an insurance of profits for vested interests in every country is probably the major achievement of his career.
Even more surprising, every phase of Nazi doctrine and procedure was described beforehand, either by the revolutionary leaders themselves or by men whose insight and competence is beyond doubt. To quote Hitler again, “And above all, we shall then maintain our passionate desire to revolutionize the world to an extent unparalleled in history. It gives us also a special, secret pleasure to see how the people about us are unaware of what is really happening to them. They gaze fascinated at one or two familiar superficialities, such as possessions and income and rank and other out-worn conceptions. As long as these superficialities are kept intact, they are quite satisfied. But in the meantime, they have entered into a new relation; a powerful social force has caught them up.”
It is too late to deplore the short-sightedness and lack of vision of the leaders of most of the great nations. It is too late to go back to where we started. It is too late to regret what has been called “the policy of abasement.” If the revolutionary nature of these changes had been recognized in time, history might have taken a different turn. There were people in every country who saw clearly from the beginning that revolution, once under way, could not be appeased, could not be bought off by small concessions; that every concession would only whet the revolutionary appetite. A revolution can be victorious, or it can go down in defeat; it cannot be appeased.
Thus, we are facing a new world. We are facing a new economy. A phase of economic history which began at least as far back as the seventeenth century is drawing toward its end. Not since the advent of the Industrial Revolution has the world been confronted with such far-reaching changes of the pattern and dynamics of economy as those established in our age. We may well be living through the closing years of the economy of welfare, rapidly approaching what has been termed “the economy of force.” It is a moot question whether this development could have been prevented. It probably could have been if the statesmen of politics and business had had the courage to make small sacrifices while there was still time to make them. It was a question of giving up a little in order to save all; now we may have to give up all to save a little. The United States of America is the last and only country that has maintained the vestiges of an economy of welfare or an economy of wealth, as others call it. It is an isolated island surrounded by rising angry waves of power economy.
What will be the impact of this new economy on the American scene? How will it affect industry, labor, the whole social and political pattern? America, as we see it today, represents from many points of view the old world. What was known as the old world has almost overnight been shattered and changed beyond recognition by the volcanic eruption of new theories and social regroupings. There are very rare instances in the past of changes that have come so swiftly and affected human society so deeply. The present changes have been almost too abrupt to be perceived by the human mind and came too swiftly to be understood. According to the calendar, we are living in 1940, but our minds are back in 1920 or 1930 at the best. We do not see that the world around us is not what we thought it was; that it will never again be the same; that our individual lives will never again be the same; that our future and the future of our children will be affected to an unprecedented degree by this powerful revolution; that as we sit and drink and are merry, the earth trembles beneath our feet. Though the years we have lived through have been anything but a picnic, tomorrow may be much, much darker than yesterday.
Many of these books are out of print but they can usually be found at used bookstores throughout the United States via Alibris.com.
Other chapters from The Economics of Force:
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