Freeman

ARTICLE

History is With Him

JUNE 01, 1959 by THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR

From The Indianapolis Star, March 10, 1959.

To date, no one has accused Presi­dent Eisenhower of being a deep student of history, but apparently he has delivered himself of a com­ment which is backed by the weight of a great deal of history.

He is credited by Life magazine with having said at one of his National Security Council con­ferences, "Damn it, when are you going to learn that national se­curity and a sound economy are the same thing?"

This is a rather crude expres­sion of a profound fact which takes people and nations a long time to grasp. Yet, this simple statement has a great deal of validity insofar as history is con­cerned.

The communists have fully ac­cepted this as a central point in their attack on the capitalist, or free enterprise, systems of the world. They know that more na­tions have died from the lack of a sound economy than have ever been killed off by external enemies. In fact, history has recorded that the assaults by outsiders are not suc­cessful until the internal structure of a nation has been weakened.

So far, there are some in this country who have refused to be­lieve what history teaches. They insist that national security is purely a military endeavor in which the number, size, and cap­abilities of arms determine the safety of the State. They refuse to believe that an obsession with military might can be as damag­ing as direct attack. They are will­ing to build ever larger armed forces, even at the risk of destroy­ing the system which these instru­ments of war are designed to pro­tect.

The nation does need military protection and it must have the capability of meeting reasonably anticipated assaults from external enemies. But if the economy which creates these armed forces is destroyed in the process of building them, then what is there left to defend?

The brief history of the Con­federate States of America is a capsule case in point. At the out­set of the Civil War, the armies of the Confederacy provided it with national security; but as the war wore on, the economy of those states was less and less able to sustain the military effort. Some historians will argue that the Con­federacy died not so much on the battlefield as in the failure to achieve a sound, productive eco­nomic system.

President Eisenhower’s blunt statement of the interrelationship between national security and a sound economy is one of the most heartening bits of news to come from the nation’s capital in some time.

***

Ideas on Liberty        

James Madison

War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instru­ments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

June 1959

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

Essential Works from FEE

Economics in One Lesson (full text)

By HENRY HAZLITT

The full text of Hazlitt's famed primer on economic principles: read this first!


By FREDERIC BASTIAT

Frederic Bastiat's timeless defense of liberty for all. Once read and understood, nothing ever looks the same.


By F. A. HAYEK

There can be little doubt that man owes some of his greatest suc­cesses in the past to the fact that he has not been able to control so­cial life.


By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Leonard Read took the lessons of entrepreneurship with him when he started his ideological venture.


By LEONARD E. READ

No one knows how to make a pencil: Leonard Read's classic (Audio, HTML, and PDF)