by Duane Thorin
by Duane Thorin
“War is an act of force to compel our adversary to do our will.”
- - (Karl von Clausewitz in Principles of War)
The war we are in - the Cold War, as it is often called – is fundamentally and finally a Political War. This protracted and worldwide conflict, with all of its anxieties, tensions and outbreaks of armed violence, results directly from the existence in force of two opposing and totally incompatible political concepts.
One of these is a totalitarian concept; with the political premise that a Government must be all-powerful -- and the liberties of its human subjects limited or extended according to the whim and convenience of those persons who occupy the offices of government. The opposing concept holds, as it has been most aptly stated in the American Declaration of July 4, 1776, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” This latter political concept has been properly called, “self-government.”
Unprovoked aggression against another nation is contrary to the very principles of a self-governing society. In contrast, totalitarian governments are by their very nature aggressive; sometimes against other societies and always against their own subjects. Moreover, although some totalitarians might be satisfied to confine their dictatorship within the borders of a single nation, not so the Marxist variety. Communism is internationalist in its aims, not merely because its present leaders seek to extend their power, but also because no Communist regime could ever feel secure in its own power while non-Marxist governments exist anywhere in the world.
“War is an act of force ---.” Although Clausewitz was probably referring specifically to military force when he wrote his 18th-century treatise On War, the principle applies to other kinds of force as well. In fact, any modern war involves a variety of forces, including, many which exist in everyday human and international relations, even when there is no war. It is the object of a force, rather than the nature of it, which determines if the force is an act of war.
Basically there are four kinds of force - four fields of action - in war; they are military, political, psychological and economic. During a “hot” war (if one presumes that term to mean a large-scale, military fight-to-the-finish as was the case in World War II) the primary field of action is the military; and political, psychological and economic forces serve in support of the military until one or another side surrenders. In “cold” war, political warfare is primary. Psychological and economic forces obviously must still serve as supporting elements. So, also, do military forces - often only as threat or counter-threat; but even when involved in open conflict, so long as the armed conflict is held limited in one sense or another, military forces and military action remain in support of the political offensive. Hence, it becomes evident that not only does the object of a force determine if it is an act of war - the object of War determines the extent to which a given kind of force will be used in carrying on the war.
Now, returning to the basic fact that the war we are presently in is first, last and always a political war; in order to understand and to counteract the forces used against us in it, we must first understand accurately and precisely the objectives of those who have started the war.
To say simply that the Communist goal is world conquest is inadequate to convey real understanding of the Cold War. Hitler sought world conquest; but in a considerably different sense than do Marxists. Hitler sought a personal conquest, that is, the physical subjugation of men and nations to his personal rule. Hence, he tried to conquer mainly by physical means - by outright and all-out force of arms.
Communists seek, instead, a political conquest; that is, not so much subservience to themselves as individuals, but conformance by all other governments to the political pattern and concepts of the Soviet Union. The Communist goal - the victory they seek in war by any means - is to see a Marxist (socialist) form of government imposed on every separate society in the world and, in turn, an amalgamation of all those separate socialist states into a world-wide system, under a single, all-powerful governing group. Because the Marxist goal is political in a very specific way, their primary method toward that goal is through political warfare.
The immediate (also intermediate) objective of Communist leaders is not the amalgamation of all separate nations into the ultimately intended world order, but the transformation of all presently non-Marxist governments into such forms that they can later be brought together and kept under control by a single, internationalist ruling group. This point was expressed as follows, in the statement of the Communist and Workers Parties of the World, convened in Moscow, in December 1960:
“Our time ... is a time of struggle between the two social systems ... of transition of more peoples to the socialistic position, of the triumph of socialism and communism on a worldwide scale.”
Each separate, non-communist nation or society presents a somewhat different problem to Marxists in their efforts to transform it into a socialist state. Fundamentally,
however there are but two ways in which the necessary changes in political structure can be brought about:
1) Physical conquest - by armed force from within or outside the national boundaries - including outright overthrow of the existing government, followed by direct imposition of a Marxist (socialist) system.
2) Gradual alteration of an existing governmental system until its domestic affairs are run along socialistic lines or until its national interests and sovereignty can be subordinated to a supra-national controlling group.* Such is the essence of Political Warfare - Conquest Through Altered Concept!
*Regardless of a national government’s domestic policies to that point, once a nation’s sovereignty with regard to international affairs has been surrendered to a supra- national controlling group, the internal policies must thereafter also conform to whatever requirements international affairs and decisions may impose!
Generally speaking, the direct method of conquest can be used only against nations which are small, weak or politically unstable; and even then only on the condition that no major non-communist power will give effective aid to the government which is under attack. The Communist takeover in Cuba offers a prime example of the first method; being, in fact, an unusually pure example of the direct method of conquest. Far
more common in the past has been the coalition process, such as is now proceeding in Laos. That is essentially a combination of the two basic methods and well demon- strates the Communist preference for political rather than military warfare. Whenever by military or other pressures, the target government can be forced into coalition with themselves, the Communists readily switch to the usually slower but far less risky processes of conquest by internal political maneuver. Yet this still does not preclude their use of military action again, if the Communists see the chance for a quick victory or advance thereby without particular risk to such gains as they already have made.
Against a major power, such as the United States of America, outright military conquest or direct overthrow of the existing governmental system are both highly improbable and very risky to attempt. So long as such a nation remains militarily strong and firmly committed against a Communist world system, as such, the more devious and indirect methods must be used. Against such a nation, pressures are therefore brought to bear toward one or both of the policy changes which are necessary for conquest by political warfare; that is, pressures to bring about alteration of the government into a socialist form of itself, or the subordination of its foreign policy to control by a supra-national group.
Since the United States of America is the major obstacle remaining to a Communist victory on a world-wide scale; and since our enemies must work to overcome that obstacle almost entirely by political warfare; we will do well to consider, in the interests of Freedom everywhere:
What alterations would be necessary in our governmental structure and policies in order that our Nation could be fitted into a Marxist world system?
First let us diagram the general structure with which it would have to be fitted - that is, the general structure of a totalitarian system, using the Soviet Union as the example:
The Soviet political system can be pictured as a pyramid, segmented in fact as well as for purposes of illustration. (All subordinate “soviet socialist republics” are identical to it in general pattern.) The peak of the pyramid represents the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet - the actual governing group - consisting of the elite few who are the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” That group includes the Premier of the Soviet Union and, in practice, the Chairman of the Communist Party (usually one and the same person).
The flow of power and control (indicated by arrows) in such a system is strictly one-way. The entire governmental structure beneath the Presidium is - both in practice and by Soviet constitutional law - simply a mechanism through which the dictates of the Presidium are worked out in detail and carried down to regional and local government agencies for enforcement upon the subject population. The Supreme Soviet is called a legislative body and is convened by the Presidium to approve whatever “legislations” and programs are ordered by the top Party and Government officials in the Presidium. The Council of Ministers is the “highest executive and administrative organ of the State Power” (Article 64, Soviet Constitution). Its functions include, among many others, to “carry out the national-economic plan” and “maintenance of public order” (Article 66). This is done through a network of subordinate ministries and “other institutions” which reach into every community and cover every essential facet of the economic lives of the subject human beings, and much of their social and cultural activity.
However, it should be noted that a very detailed pretext of representative government is maintained in the Soviet Union, through the very same structure, which is the mechanism for total dictatorship. The present Constitution of the USSR states (in Article 32) that “the legislative power of the USSR is exercised exclusively by the Supreme Soviet,” and (in Article 36) that “the Supreme Soviet of the USSR is elected for a term of four years.” To maintain that pretense citizens are required to vote (under penalty if they cannot justify failure to do so); casting their ballots “secretly” for whomever they choose, from a single slate of Party-Government selected candidates, only a few - if any - greater in number than the number of offices to be filled. Also, as was mentioned before, the Supreme Soviet does go through the motions of legislation - passing (usually unanimously) whatever is put before them for passage by the Party-Government planners who are, of course, under control of the Presidium.
Even so, despite the obvious pretenses, the fact that the Presidium wields total power in the Soviet Union is not a violation of the Soviet Constitution or (as some naive non-communists may contend) a failure of Communist leaders to live up to their promises or to abide by socialist principles. Centralization of ultimate political power is a basic socialist principle. Hence, over-riding the authorities given to any other agencies of Government, and superceding any and all rights afforded to “citizens” by the Soviet Constitution are the powers of the Presidium (listed in Article 49 of the Soviet Constitution). Among the more significant of those dictatorship-creating powers are:
c) Gives interpretations of laws of the USSR in operation;…
d) Annuls decisions and orders of the Council of Ministers ... (and other lower
agencies) ‘... if they do not conform to law;’…
(Ed. note: as interpreted under “c” above)
o) Ratifies and denounces international treaties of the USSR…..
r) Proclaims martial law in separate localities or throughout the USSR in the interest of the defense …or of the maintenance of public order and the security of the state.”
Thus, is a total dictatorship effected while maintaining a grand Pretense of democracy, popular representation, and due processes of law. All of which seems far enough removed from the political structure and practices of our United States governmental system that we should be in no real danger of having our political concepts altered to match those of the Soviets. However, Marxists are a determined lot and no doubt will continue trying to bring about such changes. Therefore, let us review our own basic political concept in a general way, to see what changes would be necessary to make it fit the Marxist-socialist pattern.
By way of contrast with the Soviet system, the original political structure within the United States can be depicted as three separate blocks of governmental authority, raised above a much larger block representing the People of the United States:
Three unique features of this political concept deserve special attention:
1) The three segments of government - Local, State and Federal - have separate areas of authority and jurisdiction;
2) The combined authorities of all three are far short of covering all activities of private citizens; being especially limited in their authorities over economic, social and cultural activities.
3) Most law and policy-making officials in all three are elected by the people - for limited terms of office and from two or more slates of candidates (which have also been determined, at least in part, by popular vote.
Thus, within this political concept there exists:
a) A check against concentration of all governmental power into the hands of a few officeholders in one location;
b) A limitation of governmental power overall; and
c) Some measure of influence and continued control (aside from the election, itself) by the citizens at large over their elected government officials. Hence a two-way flow of power and influence between the citizens and their government, instead of the one-way process of totalitarianism.
Now, to alter our self-governing concept into a totalitarian form would require the following changes:
a) Collection of the more significant authorities alloted to Local and State Governments into the hands of the Central (Federal) Government.
b) Extension of governmental authority over additional facets of private and public affairs; especially economic activities, such as agriculture, key manufacturing industries, industrial power, transportation, communications, marketing, etc. (Control is the key factor - no matter who might hold title to properties involved, ownership is meaningless in the absence of control.)
c) Elimination or circumvention of Legislative check against Executive power at the Federal level; including that the Congress become a “rubber stamp” for the Executive Branch in the passing of legislation and approval of Executive appointments and international treaties.
Do such changes seem impossible? The powers of even a limited government are necessarily great, and the balance becomes the more delicate and important as power increases.
The first two changes, by themselves, would cause a considerable alteration in our political structure. The Federal Government would be elevated, in terms of increased power; meanwhile, the preemption of their authorities by the Federal Government would leave State and Local office-holders with little or no function other than to administer Federal laws and decrees. Hence, whether the office-holders were elected or not, the flow of influence and control between private citizens and their Local and State Governments would become a one-way proposition, thus:
The extension of Federal authority over additional facets of private and public activities would bring about further alterations in structure. Especially significant would be the establishment of a variety of Federal bureaus to work out details of the newly-acquired governmental planning responsibilities. These bureaus, logically, would be headed by Executive-appointed officials, staffed by career (civil service) managers, and empowered to plan and direct whatever of industrial, agricultural and other formerly private affairs had been taken under governmental supervision and control. (Insofar as they were empowered to plan and direct activities of private citizens, such bureaus would be identical in function to the Council of Ministers in the Soviet Union.) Such bureaucracies would, of course, require regional and local agencies to carry out details of centrally-planned activities. Therefore, we would have a further elevation of Federal power, plus insulation of Federal office-holders from the People by the regional and local agencies. Our political structure would thereby have been altered thusly:
Although our original structure has been altered considerably at this point, creating a centralized government with greatly increased power, it is not a totalitarian structure. The still-saving feature is the system of checks and balances between the three branches of the Federal Government. Because the Legislative Branch is representative of and responsible to the citizens at large, the Federal bureaucracies (at least in theory) could assume control of only those segments of public and private enterprise, which the Congress might desire or allow.
To complete the transformation into totalitarian form would require, therefore, a disruption of that system of checks and balances in the Federal Government. More specifically, it would require that the Legislative Branch become a “rubber stamp” for the Executive (or otherwise incapable of holding Executive Power in check). In other words, if the Congress passed only such bills as were asked for by the Executive Branch, and if they approved without exception or challenge all Executive policies, appointments, decrees and treaties, then our original political structure for representative and self-government would have been altered into a totalitarian form.
The fact that our Legislators might still be elected would have no more significance than does the fact that members of the Supreme Soviet arc elected in the USSR; and, no matter that the Chief Executive might still be elected -- his office, together with the “rubber stamp” Congress and the Federal bureaus and agencies, would become a mechanism of dictatorship whether or not anyone wished it so! Our political structure would then appear thusly, as compared to the intentionally totalitarian Soviet model:
With the disappearance of the checks and balances representative officials in the Congress, non-representative officials - either within or under control of the Executive Branch - would not only be able to increase the scope of their authority, circumstances would almost compel them to do so.
Some may ask if the Federal Judiciary would not still serve as a check against Executive Dictatorship. Aside from the fact that there is not even one elected official in the Federal Judiciary, the Judicial Branch has no effective enforcement power of its own in the absence of Legislative or Executive backing. Thus, in the event of a marked imbalance between the other two Branches, the Judiciary would automatically serve the stronger of them.
At this point, one must consider yet another element of governmental power - that of enforcement. The manner in which police and military forces are controlled is another vital difference between a totalitarian and a self-governing system. Obviously, in a totalitarian system all such forces are under direct control of the executive offices of government. Inherent within our original self-governing concept, the Armed Forces of the United States are controlled jointly by the Legislative and Executive Branches. Also, because the Congress has greater Constitutional authority over the military than does the Executive, through that representative body the citizens of the United States also wield considerable influence. Such is the origin and the nature of Civil Authority over the military forces in the United States of America.
It is possible that such manner of civil authority over the Armed Forces might be violated or lost? It is most unlikely that the Armed Forces would themselves challenge or try to abolish it. However, if the Congress became ineffective as a check against Executive power in other regards, an imbalance would result in military affairs as well. Also, were the Congress simply to default in maintaining supervision and authority over the administration and employment of our Armed Forces – that is, to say, if they abdicated their responsibilities and relinquished some of their authorities into the hands of non-elected officials in the Executive Branch, then at once the Armed Forces would become a potential instrument of unchecked Executive power!
Finally, it must be noted that military force is essential to National power and sovereignty. This becomes especially important in view of the alternate process by which a free nation’s government might be changed into a totalitarian form - that is, through subordination of its independence and sovereignty in international affairs to the control of a supra-national group. Aside from the fact that a nation could surrender its sovereignty by giving control of its foreign policy to a supra-national group; an equally possible and perhaps more conclusive way of doing it would be if a nation gave control of the major elements of its military power to a supra-national organization; especially one which was also endowed with political authority.
Any effective government requires the exercise of power, including police or military power, regardless of the size of government or the scope of its authority. The concept of self-government requires a delicate balance and careful distribution of powers between private citizens and several separate bodies of government, between those separate bodies and also within them. The alternative to maintaining that distribution and balance is concentration and increase of governmental power, and the loss of individual Freedom!