Reducing a Great Empire to a Small One

by HENRY PELIFIAN

This auspicious title is from Ben Franklin’s essay “Rules by which a Great Empire may be reduced to a Small One” penned in September 1773.

A great empire strode across the globe and it was said that the sun never set on its empire it was so vast.  It had a colony that it abused and taxed without representation, created more laws to subdue its colony that eventually the colony rebelled and fought for its independence.

Now that colony has emerged as even greater empire, not only the sun never sets on its empire it can reach out instantaneously today to strike across the globe.  Its people chose between two parties to create their modern empire.  Its empire is so vast, its agencies and departments so large and complex in their bureaucracies its citizens know almost nothing of them or their accomplishments, however small or large. The new empire runs on automatic pilot with democratic elections with convoluted ballots where many political parties may use the same candidates as the controlling two political parties on the ballot.  It’s not ballot stuffing, it’s multiple ballots for the same two groups of people, namely the controlling parties with few exceptions.

The new empire bullies smaller countries around the world.  Justice is for its own citizens is often delayed, for without money and influence success in the courts is always an expensive and tortured ordeal to be avoided for the majority seeking justice.  The new empire creates its own peace institutes, democracy institutes and whatever institute it needs to bolster its expensive agenda.

Ben Franklin was aiming at the British Empire which was abusing its American colony. Franklin stated that a great empire is like a great cake and its colonies were on its edges and those edges were more easily separated from the cake by being so remote.

Now, 239 years later, the country he fought so hard to release from the grasp of the British Empire has supplanted that old empire and created a far larger and more powerful one.  Instead of conquering countries the new empire uses its borrowed financial wealth for discretionary spending to persuade countries to comply with its economic and strategic goals and aims.  Sometimes it resorts to wars on flimsy rationales oblivious of the financial and human costs; albeit they are so enormous they are obscene.  But the new empire sees it all as necessary and proper.

Has this new American Empire become arrogant on the world stage and even cowing its own citizens like the old British Empire?   The tremendous expansion of the national security state ostensibly created to ensure safety to Americans has enlarged government with little regard to the rights of the citizens by always diminishing the citizen. Has enlarging the state for security become a financial parasite on the citizenry?

The criminal act of 9/11 is proof of the failure of the national security state with hundreds of billions of dollars expended annually on defense and national security.  Despite these enormous expenditures this massive security effort was easily foiled, which is ignored by the mainstream press which appear often to be cheerleaders of government by not reporting and identifying effectively its failures, mistakes and abuses.

Ben Franklin believed that the British Empire inflicted its power unfairly, flagrantly, unjustly and corruptly for profit and power.  The new empire spawned by Ben Franklin and the other Founding Fathers has descended 239 years later on its own citizens who scramble in its maze.

Ben Franklin musing for today’s rules of the new and greater empire might be,
Creating a large and enormously costly military with bases throughout the world to pay for friends while getting closer to those who abhor foreign military adventurism.

Creating a large and enormously costly military with bases throughout the world to pay for friends while getting closer to those who abhor foreign military adventurism.

Creating ever larger and enormously costly overlapping and non-overlapping “intelligence” agencies and departments draw citizens and non-citizens alike closer to empire hugging them as they squirm.
 
Creating an ever larger government without identifying and correlating tangible or intangible benefits for the citizenry as they make their way through the maze of laws of all kinds or hanging over them like a rope.
 
Creating an Empire on the backs of the people claiming it is for their security while their security declines in the process, including their economic security.

Creating a lone superpower on the backs of 75% of its citizens earning $50,000 annually or less cements the people into an indebted empire tending to drown its citizens every time they swim.
 
Creating the elite of government to protect the richest and most influential may inflame the people becoming remote from their government, like the edge of a great cake.
 
Today, Ben Franklin would assuredly be using his “Rules by which a Great Empire may be reduced to a small one” on his own country, applying it one rule at a time.

Oh, there are those who cry the new Empire is different, it is not like colonialism, it only exports democracy and freedom.  Ben Franklin might reply, “Have you done it without emptying the public purse to the disadvantage of your own citizenry?”

The grievances of Ben Franklin for that old empire have reverberated in the new empire as the people now vote for alternate jockeys from the two political parties to Ride the Horse of Empire into new lands.

Henry Pelifian received a B.A. from the State University of New York at Geneseo, NY in English/Drama and Education, an MBA in International Managment from Thunderbird, Garvin School of International Management in Arizona. He served in the U.S. Army with one year in Qui Nhon, South Vietnam. A former Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, he worked for several more years overseas, primarily in Thailand in the U.S. Refugee Program. He is now writing novels, plays and short stories. You can visit his Amazon page here.

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