Plain Truth Magazine
November 1969
Volume: Vol XXXIV, No.11
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Garner Ted Armstrong & Gene H Hogberg  


Despite awesome military power, America is confused about its goals. Witness the recent "Vietnam Moratorium." Britain's sun has set. What has led to the declining power and prestige of the two English-speaking powers? This fourth in a series explains.

   THE BIG NEWS of the future could be the decline and ultimate fall of Britain and the United States.
   And you could be reading those headlines already while not comprehending what you are reading!
   How many are aware of the full significance of America's October and November "Vietnam Moratoriums"?
   We saw the headlines. We heard the dissent. But has the true import of these occasions really been understood?

Elements of National Power

   Why are certain nations great? Why have certain nations gained the respect and admiration, sometimes the envy and jealousy of the rest of the world, for their leadership, their productivity while others have stagnated or even gone backward?
   Why are some nations strong and others weak? And not only in the military sense of a large standing army or of a strategic, geographical location, but in an overall sense of a bountiful economy, possession of raw materials, industrial capacity, resourcefulness, ingenuity, inventiveness, the genius of their people, good health and a cultural heritage.
   What is the most important element of national power?
   Believe it or not, it's none of the aforementioned elements. These are important aspects of national power. But the biggest factor that makes any nation great that acts as a catalyst for all other elements has been lost, passed over and forgotten in this modern age of materialism.
   This key factor is national character the combined character of the people making up the state.

Character of Early Rome

   Strong, vibrant, moral character was the foundational underpinning of early Roman society.
   Rome was sustained first not by its famed legions, its effective use of military power, but by the character of its citizens.
   "First, at the bottom as it were of Roman society and forming its ultimate unit, was the family... The most important feature or element of this family group was the authority of the father...
   "It would be difficult to overestimate the influence of this group [the family unit] upon the history and destiny of Rome. It was the cradle of at least some of those splendid virtues of the early Romans that contributed so much to the strength and greatness of Rome, and that helped to give her the dominion of the world." (Rome: Its Rise and Fall, by Myers, pp. 11, 12, 15)
   But gradually, the family began to crumble, as we showed in detail in Part I of this series.
   The time-honored virtues of honesty, frugality, patriotism no longer nourished and preserved in the family unit withered. Eventually the twin economic evils of confiscatory taxation and inflation ruined Rome's economy. The maintenance of a huge military machine plus an overstuffed bureaucracy consumed much of the Roman "tax dollar."
   With inflation and the high cost of living came unemployment and welfare(ism). This, in time, gave rise to the ugly spectacles of the Roman games and other endless rounds of sports and entertainments to keep a restless population quiescent. The significance of this was made clear in Part III.

Overlooked Factor

   History also reveals that because of decaying conditions at home, the great bulk of the descendants of the original Roman stock eventually fled the Italian peninsula to outlying parts of the Empire.
   "... the native stock declined. The decay of agriculture... drove numbers of farmers into the towns, where, unwilling to engage in trade, they sank into unemployment and poverty, and where, in their endeavors to maintain a high standard of living, they were not able to support the cost of rearing children. Many of these free-born Latin's were so poor that they often complained that the foreign slaves were much better off than they and so they were. At the same time many were tempted to immigrate to the colonies across the sea which Julius Caesar and Augustus founded. Many went away to Romanize the provinces, while society was becoming
   The five reasons for Rome's fall deduced from the writings of noted historians of the Roman world:
   (1) The breakdown of the family and the rapid increase of divorce.
   (2) The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant spending.
   (3) The mounting craze for pleasure and the brutalization of sports.
   (4) The expanding production of armaments to fight ever-increasing threats of enemy attacks when the real enemy was the decay of the society from within.
   (5) The decay of religion into myriad and confusing forms, leaving the people without a uniform guide.
Orientalized at home... The Roman thus gave away to the Easterner in Italy, while he made a place for himself in the provinces." (Freedmen in the Early Roman Empire, pp. 200-202)
   Left in positions of political power in the homeland were the descendants of freed slaves. These people largely from the Middle East around Syria were of entirely different stock and temperament. The impact of the race change in the Roman homeland has not been fully understood by historians.
   The "new Romans" were indeed different. They "did not spring from the soil of Rome, their recollections and affections were elsewhere. Whilst the statesmen and leading men wore themselves out in trying to preserve what remained of the ancient spirit and old customs, down below amongst those classes of the populace which were constantly being recruited from slavery, there was a continual working to destroy it." (Historians History of the World, vol. 6, p. 365)
   Prof. T. Frank, writing in the American Historical Review, July 1916, vol. 21, p. 705, said: "This Orientalization of Rome's populace has a more important bearing than is usually accorded to it, upon the larger question of why the spirit and acts of imperial Rome are totally different from those of the republic."
   With this gradual but thorough change of temperament and population came a severe drop in patriotism and national feeling. The freed slaves, after all, had little regard for ancient Roman traditions and cultural heritage.
   It... even before the frontiers of the Roman Empire had been pushed out to their greatest extent, the military spirit that animated the early Romans had become extinct, and all enthusiasm for the military life and the military virtues had been lost.
   "Under the later empire, service in the army grew so unpopular and even odious that many cut off the fingers of the right hand in order to escape military duty... [A recent article in the Los Angeles Times revealed the growing problem of dissent, resistance to orders, demands for constitutional rights even underground newspapers among American servicemen].
   "The empire was made up of hundreds of cities; but the citizens of these towns, with very few exceptions, took neither pride nor interest in imperial affairs... Men were no longer willing to die or to live either for their city or for the empire.
   "It was this lack of spiritual ties binding in a vital union the cities and communities of the empire that the statesman-historian Guizot maintains was a chief cause of its dissolution. With the first blows of the barbarians it fell to pieces." (Rome: Its Rise and Fall, by Myers, pp. 449, 451, 452)
   The formidable army of the Empire could not save Rome, which had been eaten out cancer-like from within.
   In fact, the final overthrow of the Imperial government was dealt by mutinous Roman legions whose soldiers had been recruited from neighboring "barbarian" nations.
   Rome at its fall was not the same as Rome in the early days of the Republic, neither in the racial makeup of its people, nor its ideals, nor its national spirit.
   The conclusion from all this is that nations can change character and change drastically. And the changes are usually not for the good!

U.S., Britain Changed Too

   No two modern nations have changed so drastically in national character and ideals in recent years as have the British and American peoples.
   In his new book, Decline and Fall? Britain's Crisis in the Sixties, author Paul Einzig clearly explains the real cause for the decline of Britain as a world power:
   "Britain's most valuable asset had always been the character of her people... They are, or were until recently, as public-spirited as any nation and more so than most nations...
   "What has been the main cause of Britain's decline?... The answer is, the author regrets to say, the deterioration of some of those qualities of British character which had been responsible for the achievement of British greatness...
   "The {British} Empire was built up and maintained by the devotion of the British people to the cause of their country. That devotion seems to have declined to the vanishing point. Everybody, or at any rate the overwhelming majority, is now for himself and himself alone" (pp. 16, 28, 29).
   How true. "Do your own thing" is the hue and cry of our age.
   "When the author...reads books or sees films on the Battle of Britain period, he finds it somewhat difficult to believe that the people he encounters or reads about today can possibly belong to the same race as the people who gave such a magnificent account of themselves in 1940 (p. 6).
   "Over and above all, recent years have witnessed a progressive debasement of the British character. Selfishness and impatient greed demanding the advent of a millennium immediately have gained ground and 'growth-hysteria' has become a national disease.
   "Hard-faced trade unionists quite frankly admit that the only thing in which they are interested is to get the maximum of exclusive advantage for their members, and seldom worry about the effect of their selfishness on the rest of the community" (pp. 10, 11).
   Author Einzig then asks "what has happened to the 'Spirit of Dunkirk'?"
   "If it had not been for that spirit," he says, "Britain could not have survived as an independent nation. Had the men engaged in aircraft production slowed down for the sake of earning more overtime pay, or had they embarked on wildcat strikes at the slightest excuse, or had they been resisting measures aimed at increasing output or saving manpower, the R.A.F. could not possibly have been provided with the additional Spitfires that enabled them to win the Battle of Britain with a narrow margin.
   "Unfortunately today the behavior that was the exception in 1940 has become the rule, while the attitude that was the rule in 1940 has now become the rare exception. Almost all sections of the community are now much more interested in securing for themselves immunity from the sacrifices demanded by the situation...
   "Everybody, or almost everybody, is trying to get as much as possible out of the community and to give the community as little as possible in return... If the debasement of the British character is allowed to continue too long, the point of no return might be passed at some stage" (pp. 6, 7, 11).
   One even wonders if the point of no return has not already been passed.

Downfall of American Character

   What about the United States her national character?
   It is an undeniable fact that we are a nation of worsening bad character, a nation leading the world in many evils, a nation that has lost its way, having no transcendental goal or purpose beyond hanging onto what we have.
   America leads the world in wretched examples of family life. We lead the world in divorce, broken homes, and juvenile lawlessness.
   We lead the world in fostering a disenchanted, turned-off, rebellious, thoroughly disgusted, isolated, futility-ridden generation of young people.
   We lead the Western world in crime. We're far and away Number One, no contest, when it comes to a crime-ridden country. We lead them all. No one is our peer.
   Years ago, F.B.I. Chief J. Edgar Hoover said we face the twin enemies of crime and Communism. Crime and moral decay are eating out America from within. And Communism stands ready to pick up the pieces.
   Most people haven't thought of it this way, but Communism except during periods of war or the aftermath of warfare has never been able to subvert a society where there was little or no corruption or moral decay.
   Communism is a political force that feeds on decaying social systems. It is like a political cancer. It subverts governments, infiltrates and agitates all potentially dissident groups and even hoodwinks members of the news media.
   Our "Vietnam Moratoriums" should have taught us a valuable lesson.
   If America persists on its path of self-destruction, no huge army, no $80 billion-a-year defense budget can save us.

Becoming Our Own Enemies

   America once a peaceful land within its borders has become a world leader in civil disorders. We largely ignore the cause and treat the effect.
   Since August 1965, National Guard troops have been called out 268 times to quell civil disturbances.
   This shocking figure was given to us recently by Major General Glen C. Ames, commanding general of the National Guard in the State of California.
   Interviewed on The WORLD TOMORROW television program, General Ames further stated that if full figures were known, it is quite possible that as many troops have been involved in quelling civil disturbances within the United States in the past four years as have been directly confronting the enemy in Vietnam at any one time.
   Americans, paradoxically, are becoming their own enemies. The same thing happened in Rome. Writes political science analyst Dr. Robert Strausz-Hupe: "By the beginning of the third century, Rome's towns and cities had become unsafe places... The annals of Rome record the increase of riots, some culminating in conflagrations which destroyed whole towns." (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, February 9, 1969)

Other Firsts

   America leads or is among the world leaders in the production of pornography, in the manufacture of patently raw, twisted, unbelievably perverted pornographic material. Our movie moguls are striving, it seems, for world supremacy in the production of films with rotten, twisted, perverted sex themes. These are sent abroad as a hideous example of American art form. The latest Hollywood sex "kick" is a spate of movies about wife-swapping.
   We lead the world in a maddened search for every type of pleasure and excitement.
   Our people have become mentally and physically soft.
   Our nation is divided, frustrated and confused. The furor over the recent Vietnam Moratorium vividly shows this.
   We no longer have a strong, clearly defined national character.

What Good Character Is

   Good character manifests itself in ways that not only benefit an individual but benefit other people and the nation as a whole.
   Good character is based on self-sacrifice, on construction and building, on dedication to high national goals and purposes. It's not selfish. It's not self-seeking. It's not introspective and inward looking.
   It is first an outgoing concern for others. But instead we're a nation saying, "Do your own thing," isolate yourself, drift away from the crowd, adopt the philosophy of sitting around, picking a weed, watching the tide go out. As one recent song has it, "sittin' on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away."
   We are a nation without transcendental, national goals. We're unsure of where we're heading or where we ought to be heading. There's no national purpose to which, all people are dedicated and unified as if we were one.
   Even the remarkable achievement of planting an American flag on the alien surface of the moon fails to excite us for any length of time.
   It wasn't always this way.
   We recently glanced at an old American popular magazine published in 1906, 63 years ago. The name of the magazine was Everybody's Magazine, long since defunct.
   We had the same impression Paul Einzig had when he compared Britain of today with the British people when they were backed against the wall in 1940.
   In the pages of that magazine was depicted a nation radically different from the America of today.
   It was a nation of purpose and direction. Its foreign policy was vigorous. At the helm of the land was one of the proudest political figures in U.S. history, Teddy Roosevelt.
   The lead article in the magazine dealt with the construction of the Panama Canal. The author on an inspection trip to the canal site assured his readers back home that all was going well, that the engineers and other personnel on the project were fired up with ambition to complete the awesome project despite the rigors of the tropics.
   The author just knew America would succeed where the French, in an earlier attempt, had failed.
   As an aside, the author reported that not only the morale, but the morals of the American contingent was good except for a notorious few in a certain department whose lives he complained were "a scandal."
   Today a scandalous life if one can believe the polls taken about life on America's college campuses is considered normal. To be chaste, pure, clean is the exception to the rule.
   The author pardoned the excesses of the few scandalous individuals by saying there were loose-living individuals "even in such sanctified communities as San Francisco and New York."
   Don't blink. You read that correctly. The author wasn't speaking tongue-in-cheek. San Francisco and New York, at the turn of the century, were considered "sanctified communities" the center of culture, refinement, the arts, even morality.
   How times have changed!

No Will to Fight

   Our people seemingly no longer have the will to fight an enemy that is determined to overthrow us.
   This fact was again brought home by statements made by Anatoly Kuznetsov, a popular Soviet writer who recently defected while visiting Great Britain.
   The 39-year-old author had a close contact with Soviet leaders for several years. As a member of the editorial board of the Soviet magazine Yunost, which has a circulation of more than two million, Kuznetsov attended high-level meetings of Kremlin foreign-policy planners.
   "The long objective of the foreign policy of the present Soviet leaders is to dominate the world," Kuznetsov told British intelligence officials during one debriefing session. "And they all agree that the U.S. is the only nation that can keep them from achieving this goal in their lifetime."
   In high-level discussions of the war in Vietnam, Kuznetsov said Soviet officials stress that it is in the interest of the Soviet Union for the U.S. to become dispirited in Vietnam. They are intent upon breaking the will of the American people to oppose Communist insurgencies elsewhere in the future. The Soviets hope we will retreat from Vietnam snatching defeat from the jaws of certain victory and never dare oppose Communist takeover anywhere again.
   This is why the growing anti-war sentiment in the U.S. so interests Kremlin leaders. The Soviet news agency Tass praised the October 15 "War Moratorium" as the "greatest peace manifestation" in U.S. history.
   Kuznetzov further confirmed what many U.S. military officers have long contended: that Russia, as the major military supplier of North Vietnam, could end the war tomorrow, if she wanted to, by cutting off supplies to Hanoi. The Soviets recently concluded additional military and economic aid agreements with North Vietnam.
   Despite this evidence, a growing number of Americans seemingly dismiss the threat of Communism. Even the documented evidence of Communist influence in certain radical youth organizations causes virtually no alarm or is dismissed as mere propaganda.
   PLAIN TRUTH correspondents present at a long "Moratorium Day" rally in Los Angeles were struck with one thing: Despite the impassioned pleas for peace, there was a virtual absence of national consciousness among those who attended the rally. The speeches were all inward directed "Stop the war, bring the boys home NOW pull out immediately, regardless of the cost" the "party line" of Communist infiltrators.
   What the cost the enormous cost of retreating in the face of the enemy would mean in human lives and to America's image and power in the world was overlooked or considered to be of no importance.
   Americans have lost the spirit of a winner. And in a world of competing powers and superpowers, you are either a winner or a loser.
   It remains to be seen whether President Nixon's major policy speech of November 3 will alter the trend of America's national will. The spontaneous, enthusiastic response of the "Silent Majority" was encouraging to Administration officials. But some network newsmen's disgusting attempt to pick the President's address to pieces was surely very encouraging to Communists.
   President Nixon warned that if the U.S. pulled out, the world would see a repeat of the blood bath in which 50,000 were cruelly murdered when America's policy of containment allowed Ho Chi Minh to take over in North Vietnam.

"Softness and Self-Indulgence"

   Loyalty and dedication and sacrifice will eventually make a nation more stable and stronger than all the billions upon billions of dollars in foreign aid and government handouts ever given to nations throughout all of history, because true national strength is developed in the character of its people.
   Did you ever hear the words of the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who has long since gone the way of all old soldiers along with General Douglas MacArthur?
   In his State of the Union message in January, 1960, former President Eisenhower said:
   "A rich nation can for a time without noticeable damage to itself pursue a course of self-indulgence, making its single goal the material ease and comfort of its own citizens. But the enmities it will incur, the isolation into which it will descend, and the internal, moral, and physical softness that will be engendered will in the long term bring it to disaster.
   "America did not become great through softness and self-indulgence," he continued. "Her miraculous progress and achievements flow from other qualities far more worthy and substantial. And those were," as he said, "adherence to principles and methods constant with our religious philosophy, of satisfaction in hard work, the readiness to sacrifice for worthwhile causes, the courage to meet every challenge to our progress, the intellectual honesty and capacity to recognize the true path of our own best interests."
   President Eisenhower was looked upon as a man of true substance a man of certain good character. People could sense it, whether they voted for him or not. And when he died the nation honored him.
   Arthur F. Burns, newly appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, said recently: "Our problem is not the gross national product which now, incidentally is at an annual rate of over $900,000,000,000 a year."
   But he said, "The quality of life in this country has been deteriorating. Most of us are still hard-working, but a sizeable minority and I'm afraid a growing minority has lost faith in our institutions!"
   Then he cited the institution of the family the high divorce and the growing illegitimacy rates. He mentioned loss of faith in churches, schools, colleges and government.
   "We seem to have lost a sense of direction," he said. "We seem to have no sense of purpose. That is our problem."
   Then he gave an interesting example, a down-to-earth and homespun way of looking at it. "Even in our rural areas you find that many people who could easily do so no longer even grow a vegetable garden"
   A simple little observation. But it just shows a lack of pride, a lack of togetherness as a family, even a lack of a once-in-a-while goal for the kids and Mom and Dad to take a peek every now and then to see how the carrots and rutabagas are doing! No, we don't have those things very much anymore.
   Some will insist: "I don't need a garden. I can buy all the vegetables I need." But gardens produce more than vegetables family togetherness, purpose, character. That is what Mr. Burns was stressing.
   "The attitude towards work," he said, "has changed among a great deal of the population. A portion of Americans feel that they just no longer need to work. They feel society is sort of responsible for their conditions of living. It's not their fault. By virtue of their birth and where they are and the part of the city where they live well, somebody else is guilty!"
   No, it's never the fault of the guy who is doing the griping.
   About a decade ago, a noted economist who is now dead, Roger Babson, wrote in his syndicated newspaper column, "The test of a nation is the growth of its people, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Money and so-called prosperity are of very little account!"
   "Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Spain, and France," he said, "all had their turn in being the richest in the world." And the very fact they had their turn is significant, because it was just their turn at being great. And then they declined. "And instead of saving them," continued Babson, their so- called prosperity proved to be the ruin of them.
   "Our nation is now the richest, but it could easily become a second-class nation and head downward. Money will not save us!"
   Neither will moratoriums based on hostile, bitter dissent save us.
   Babson concluded, and you'll have to take issue with him if you disagree, but he's dead now, "Only a sane, spiritual revival which changes the desires of our people will save us! We must be filled with the desire to render service, to seek strength rather than security, to put character ahead of profit!"

Not by Might

   Mr. Babson could have added, that even the mightiest military force in the history of the world will not save us either. Vietnam shows this.
   The United States has spent about one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) on armaments since the end of World War II.
   And in an attempt to maintain its power and position in the world, the U.S. spends nearly $80,000,000,000 a year on defense. This expenditure represents 92 cents out of every $10 spent for all purposes, public and private.
   Despite this awesome power potential, the U.S. lost the Pueblo and apologized in order to get the crew back without the ship.
   Despite America's mighty military machine, a tenth-rate power may push the United States out of Southeast Asia.
   Why? How could such a paradoxical situation come about?
   A few years back a Navy official, Commander P.N. Searls, spoke out against the declining moral standards of society and specifically the new recruits he had to deal with.
   "We can have the best missiles and ships and planes in the world," he said, "but they are no better than the men who operate them."
   Then he referred to Rome's fall.
   "Effete and over civilized Rome lost its national will and national purpose and was overrun by the Vandals. Civilizations with a low standard of morality have been pushed to the grave throughout history by people with a low standard of dying."
   Character is the important thing. That's where the strength of a nation comes from the character of its people. Not only because there are moral laws which work and that are active and alive, but because there is also a God in heaven above who, after all, like any loving parent, blesses for obedience and punishes for disobedience!
   And we have been living, lately, under some strange kind of a curse!
   You need to know more about what made the United States and the British Commonwealth of nations strong.
   You need to know where we got our wealth. How we came to be where we are. What are our true national origins? And why do we have all of the problems we do today? What are the solutions? What's the way out?
   Our book on The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy will make it clear to you. It's hard-hitting; it tells you the truth about where we came from and what's ahead in the future.


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Plain Truth MagazineNovember 1969Vol XXXIV, No.11