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:
THE ECONOMICS OF FORCE
PAST AND FUTURE are meeting in these days. A dim past has re-emerged to make more foreboding a horizon already lighted by the glow of a world aflame. The ghosts of a past buried for centuries are haunting an age already burdened with problems almost insoluble. Advances purchased by generations of suffering, institutions created by the toil and sacrifice of innumerable human beings, liberties conquered by proud and noble nations have already become a prey of the flames. The invading hordes have reappeared equipped with planes and tanks. The Inquisition devours thousands of what were recently happy men and women. The sword and the microphone, deadly weapons both, pursue the heretic. Streamlined tyranny proclaims the death of the age of reason and liberty.
The last of the battles that assured the independence of the American people was not fought at Yorktown in the fall of 1781. The American Revolution, like that of France, has not yet been completed. The forces of darkness are stronger today than they were in 1776 and 1789. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is a cry more revolutionary today than it was 164 years ago. The upward revolution of 1776 is facing the downward revolution of 1933.
It is not only political institutions, achievements and rights that are threatened. Nothing has been settled, nothing has been definitely gained, nothing can be taken for granted. The revolution has not been confined to the sphere of politics, still less to the military sphere. It has been equally challenging in the sphere of economics. Unnoticed by the average observer, overlooked by the student of the new despotism, underestimated by many an expert, a new economic order has swept the old world and threatens to engulf the new. An economic system geared for wealth has been supplanted by an economic system geared for power, and power only. National economies have been turned into powerful engines of conquest and domination. Industry, agriculture, business, labor are only parts of a military machine. A higher standard of power has taken the place of a higher standard of living. War and revolution have become aims in themselves. Everything else is degraded into subservience. The objectives of economy have changed. The methods of economy have changed. Economic institutions have changed. There is scarcely any economic concept that has not taken on a new meaning.
The author was in a particularly favorable, if uncomfortable, position from which to view the impact of the new economy of force. Living in a country democratic to the core, surrounded by the ever rising tide of red, black and brown revolutions, defending a successful economy of better living against an ever more powerful policy of the iron fist, receding step by step, “tricked by foe and sold by friend” and ultimately witnessing the victimizing of a free economy by “scientific looting,” he was strategically placed to observe the impact of the two systems of economic and human values. Czechoslovakia was the laboratory of a working and dynamic democracy. It has since become an experiment station for the new technology of mass oppression and mass destruction.
The conflict of these two worlds is fundamentally a race between the new system of military and economic conquest and the lagging awareness and understanding on the part of those nations which are still untouched by the conflict. The great nations of the West were slow in appraising the forces of this volcanic eruption of the past. They were too late in acting because they were too late in understanding. It was not due to chance that the Czech people were more acutely cognizant of the danger than the Western world. Neither was it due to chance that the word robot was taken from the Czech language. Much of the supposedly new philosophy of force was tried out on subject populations in centuries past.
This book is intended for the interested, non-technical reader who is trying to find a foothold in the maze of conflicting theories, statements and facts. It should be of particular concern to members of the business community, who ought to be acutely aware of the import of the economy of force upon our business institutions. H. G. Wells was probably right when he pointed out that the greatest danger to democracy arises not only from the “ill-employed young men” but also from the “fears of our moneyed and governing class” who in too many countries sacrificed democratic liberties only to find themselves deprived of all other rights, including the right of private property.
The main parts of the book were written in August and September 1940. Nothing that has happened since has changed materially any of the basic concepts or institutions described, except that the fundamental pattern of the economy of force can now be perceived more distinctly.
I am greatly indebted to the many kind and warm-hearted Americans who have shown interest, sympathy and understanding for the plight of those who by their suffering and steadfastness pay the price for a possible new upward march of mankind. Their encouragement and help has greatly contributed to make this study possible. Professors Barry Cerf, Arthur F. Scott and Robert P. Terrill read the manuscript in full or in part. Their advice was of the utmost value. Miss Elizabeth Funge was very helpful in preparing the manuscript. The atmosphere of Reed College, almost utopian in its freedom, earnestness of purpose and intelligent as well as human approach to social problems, was an encouragement in itself to one coming from another world.
Other chapters from The Economics of Force:
Frank published three books in addition to his unpublished memoirs. These three books can often be found at used bookstores throughout the United States via Alibris.com .
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