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 25: A Supercontinental Empire
As the war progresses, the press of the totalitarian countries is devoting more and more space to articles about the American scene, American international problems, American economy and the defense program, and particularly, the efforts of Pan-American collaboration. There is scarcely an issue of any of the more important government-controlled papers that does not publish one or more articles on the Western Hemisphere. The underlying idea is unmistakable, and is being very often expressed with utter frankness. It is that while Europe is to be united under totalitarian leadership, the United States would be wise to withdraw from South America and refrain from any attempts to create a united American front. It is openly claimed that Nazi-Fascism has reached a new stage in which it has become more than national. The first stage, according to the German press, was the unification of all Germans within one state. This stage was accomplished in 1939. The second stage was the unification of Central Europe, including the conquered regions in the east and the Balkans, a Greater Germany, with Germany proper as its nucleus and the surrounding states as its protecting shell. The third stage is the organization of the whole continent of Europe under the domination of Berlin. The last stage should be a supercontinental empire for which the foundations are already being laid.
It is remarkable that whenever one stage of the game was about to be reached, or supposed to be reached, an extensive press campaign and articles of the geo-political school started to prepare the ground for the next stage.
In the economic sphere, the immediate goal is an all-European monopoly, under complete regimentation, with unified planning to suit the needs of the new masters. But already the ground work is being laid for extra-European extension of totalitarian policies.
Most of the above mentioned articles stress the importance of South America, especially as a source of raw materials. President Roosevelt's plans of a Pan-American export cartel were attacked as American imperialism, and reprisals were immediately threatened under the name of Pan-European import cartel. Such threats should not deter us from necessary action. This cartel will come about in any case, if the totalitarians win the war and achieve their goal in the old world.
As one of the German government newspapers put it: The economic solidarity of Europe, a direct result of the present political and economic situation, lends an extraordinary force to economic policy. It is a complete illusion to believe that anyone will be allowed to prescribe to this Europe economic or political conditions. The large producers of raw materials overseas have no other market but Europe. There is no market in the world that could replace Europe. If the experiment should be undertaken… there can be no doubt about the outcome.
Even if the totalitarians should succeed in controlling the whole of Europe, they would still not have attained economic and military self-sufficiency. Modern technology has increased the dependence of the temperate zone on products of tropical or semi-tropical countries. No great empire can exist today if it does not command resources in other continents. It will be well to keep this in mind in estimating the next move of Nazism, Fascism, and Communism. No one of them can hope to continue for any length of time if it does not control at least a part of the tropics. With the economy of power prevailing in the world, the United States, of course, is in the same position. It is indispensable for its safety to have under its control the military and trade routes to Central and South America, and possibly also to the Orient, and to exclude any dangerous foreign influences from these parts of the Western Hemisphere. South America is one of the economic and strategic poles of the earth, and the organization of economy on a continental basis will make the problem only more acute.
From the point of view of American economy, the creation of a European continental block would be the most important economic event since the American Revolution. The United States is a giant compared with the economy of each single European country. Compared with the economy of Europe as a whole, the United States is in a decidedly unfavorable position as far as both productive capacity and bargaining power are concerned. A great deal of economic and political statesmanship will be required to solve this problem while there is still any freedom of action left.
Chapter 26: The Last Frontier
Looking back to the last ten or fifteen years, we see a continuous drift toward war and revolution. The totalitarian countries have conquered three-fourths of the globe, not because of their strength but because of the weakness of their opponents. Because of what Walter Lippman has called this “muddle, this unreadiness, this slowness, this short-sightedness, this wishfulness and self-complacency, this hugging of illusions… something universal in the modern democratic world.” Let us not believe that the wishfulness and the illusions have disappeared. The history of the war so far has shown that illusions have had a hard time dying even in the belligerent countries after the war started. First it was the illusion that time is working in favor of the democracies; second, the illusion that the war can be won simply by an economic blockade of Germany; third, the illusion that the war can be won by defensive measures alone; fourth, the illusion that the economy of the totalitarian states will break down under the strain of war; fifth, the illusion that the war will crack the morale of the populations of the totalitarians. Belligerents and neutrals alike have been surprisingly uninformed on the real aims and facts of the conflict. Propaganda perhaps played an important part in creating these illusions. An even greater part has been due to mental and physical laziness. Whatever the crimes of the totalitarians, they do not train people to be inactive and complacent. On the contrary, all their energies are concentrated in training fighters, fighters for every field.
Self-complacency is the mortal enemy of democracy. Democracy is started as an adventure, an adventure in freedom and self-government. It is the greatest adventure that humanity has ever undertaken. It does not survive when it becomes conservative and passive. Democracy has to be audacious, or it ceases to be. It loses its spell and becomes tedious, dry and unpromising. People, and especially young people, need adventure. A democracy has to be an adventure in order to continue. Democracy is on the defensive because it has ceased to be on the offensive. Democracy cannot stand still. It can either march forward or fall back. It has been falling back since 1919. It has lost peace because it thought it had bought it and could keep it. You cannot buy peace. You have to strive continuously to build peace. You cannot hold things There is no such thing as security without effort, nor is there such a thing as standing still. “He who stands still is already sliding back,” says a Czech poet. What some of the democracies have been doing for the last couple of years has been “worse than a crime, it was a blunder,” to use the words of Talleyrand.
Rights can exist only as long as they are accompanied by corresponding duties. Property can continue only as long as it fulfills a social function. Social privileges will continue only as long as they are recognized as useful for society. Democracy will continue only if we are willing to sacrifice. Democracy itself is not only a privilege; it is a heavy duty. Our civilization will continue if we are willing to sacrifice for its future. It is not the sacrifice itself that decides things; it is the will to sacrifice. Those who have the will often do not have to make the sacrifice. It is those who have lost the will that ultimately will lose all.
Nations have sacrificed their honor to save peace, and lost both. Millions of people in Europe today would be happy if they only had an opportunity to defend themselves. They are defenseless. They are suffering all the physical tortures coupled with mental anguish, frustration, and despair. Older civilizations disappeared when they became “too civilized.”
We are asking ourselves again if democracies have become too civilized to fight, too civilized to defend themselves, too civilized to die for a cause. To die on the field of battle may not be ultimate glory. To die in a concentration camp is even less glamorous. The voice of any single individual is too weak to awaken those who hesitate or hug illusions. Let us hope that the silent millions, the oppressed, the defenseless, the humiliated will wake up those about whom it has been said: “Eyes have they, but they see not. They have ears, but they hear not. They have hands, but they handle not. Neither speak they through their throat.”
Many of these books are out of print but they can usually be found at used bookstores throughout the United States via Alibris.com.
25-1 Frankfurter Zeitung, August 2, 1940
Other chapters from The Economics of Force:
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