Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Blue Wound - part IX - retrospective; Isolationism and today's world; New Deal, Jeffrey Tucker

Check here for parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and VIII of the Blue Wound live blog.

As I wrote earlier, I am glad that I read Blue Wound slowly. I have met many people that have read the large novels of Ayn Rand. Most of them tell me that they read the whole book (Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged) within a couple of days. I began to realize that those who blast through these books that quickly are missing a great deal. They forget the point of the books. The books become little more than one more book that they read one day years ago. The books are forgotten and their message is lost.

Garrett's books are much shorter than Rand's, but they present their own problems that require slow absorption. Garrett's philosophy is impossible to pigeonhole. While many authors want to use Garrett as a weapon in today's political battles, the true story is not so simple. It is not common to find such a staunch opponent of the New Deal that also happens to be an isolationist. The very concept of isolationism is not simple to define. Isolationism does not mean that the U.S. should never fight a war. Nor does it mean that we should never fight on foreign soil. It does mean that we should remain independent in every way - economically, militarily, etc. Isolationism and "anti-war" are not necessarily the same thing.

Isolationism is neither the concept that has been demonized by today's conservatives nor the concept that has been hijacked by today's leftists. In fact, many of today's leftists that hasten to flee from every war would also be the first to subjugate ourselves to the U.N., foreign treaties, foreign governments, etc. The same leftists hasten to weaken our economy and destroy our domestic industries with minimum wage increases, environmental legislation, union friendly policies, high taxes, etc.

Garrett truly is an orphan in today's political spectrum. But it was not always so. Garrett's philosophy, as expressed in Blue Wound and elsewhere, has its roots as far back as the founding of this country. But because it cannot be easily pigeonholed in today's false political dichotomy, it takes more than one book (and more than one author) to fully grasp the concepts. As an example, It takes reflection, study and time to realize that it was proper to support America's fight in the cold war while also remaining an isolationist.

Many free market advocates are uncomfortable with Garrett's negative treatment of international trade. But they overlook the fact that Garrett's writings are not really a proposal for specific policies, but a description of consequences of present policies. Garrett seeks to understand history and the future through fictional scenarios. Whether we advocate particular policies or not, we should not dismiss Garrett's scenarios.

The main item that limits the usefulness of the Blue Wound is the event that intervened ten years after Blue Wound's publication. The New Deal was the largest single step in the U.S.' march to tyranny. Overnight, the government went from a simple republic to an empire. (See "The Revolution Was" for details.) In some cases, the New Deal accelerated the problems of which Garrett warned. In some cases, the New Deal dwarfed those problems. To the extent that Blue Wound (or any other pre-New Deal Garrett writing) attempted to predict the future, the New Deal stands as a prism that distorts the image projected from those writings to our eyes. It is a pity for us that Garrett did not write novels post New Deal. [American Story and A Time was Born come close to filling this role.] I would have enjoyed a novel that presents the New Deal as an allegory or a parable.

Jeffrey Tucker has expressed some concerns with Blue Wound's analogies and its failure to isolate those problems that result solely from government action:

I suspect that this early in his career, Garrett wasn't quite as alert as he would be later to the distinction between the state means and the economic means.

To the extent that such concepts were blurred in Blue Wound, the New Deal's arrival ten years later forced Garrett and other writers to face and define such distinctions much more clearly.

My advice to anyone that is interested in Blue Wound is to read it, absorb it and let its ideas ferment in your mind for an indefinite period while pursuing other reading on isolationism and the America's march toward tyranny. You will eventually find the proper context for the ideas from this and other Garet Garrett books.

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