Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More Bad Stuff ARI

Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, starts an op-ed this way:
To achieve peace in the Middle East, as in any region, there is a necessary principle that every party must learn: the initiation of force is evil. And the indispensable means of teaching it is to ensure that the initiating side is defeated and punished. Decisive retaliatory force must be wielded against the aggressor. So long as one side has reason to think it will benefit from initiating force against its neighbors, war must result.
This is undeniably true. Unfortunately, since Ghate doesn't know history, he has cast the roles incorrectedly. The Palestinians and Arabs generally did not initiate force when the Jewish statehood, or Zionist, movement got started in the late nineteenth century. The Arabs were largely on the receiving end of the coercion, as they were terrorized and dispossessed of the land they and their ancestors had worked for generations. The great myth is that the Zionist movement was ever weaker than the Arabs. Moreover, as Paul Johnson wrote in Modern Times, the Irgun (a Zionist guerilla organization that had Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir as members) attack on the King David Hotel (British headquarters) in Jerusalem in 1946 was "the prototype terrorist outrage for the decades to come."

(Ghate's column gets worse as it goes along. E.g.: "Israel is a free country, which recognizes the rights of its citizens, whatever their race or religion, and which prospers through business and trade. It has no use for war and no interest in conquest." Don't you just love when someone does an a priori analysis of an empirical matter?)

This history does not justify Arab violence against innocent Israeli civilians -- such as Hezbollah is committing in northern Israel -- but we ought to keep the context in mind when we size up events there.


Dick Gach said...

Sheldon -- Let's go back a few more years, to Moses, leading the Hebrews to the promised land. I don't recall any conflict at that time. Seems to me that they just moved in and populated the area. Then came Jesus, a Jew with some new ideas. His followers established Christianity, all in the same area. But 600 years later came Muhammad, who was not so peaceful. He set out to conquer the world by force.
Don't tell me that the Arabs are entitled to the Mid-East to the exclusion of all Jews and Christians! Incidentally, as you well know, all three religions go back to Abraham, who discovered that there is but ONE God, regardless of how that God is named. All three teach some version of the Golden Rule. Too bad it is not practiced by all.

Bob Hodges said...

Mr. Richman,

Very interesting stuff, would you recommend reading Paul Johnson? Modern Times & couple of his other books sound interesting, but I've also heard that he is quite the war president worshipper. I try to avoid that sort of popular history.

Mr. Gach,

You might want to read the Old Testament book of Joshua and refrain from commenting on the peacefulness of the Israeli conquest of the Promised Land until you do.

As for your assertion that Muhammad wanted to conquer the world, well I'd be curious as to how you drew that conclusion about a figure 1500 years old and who we are familiar with through often ambiguous and conflicting oral traditions.


Sheldon Richman said...

Bob, I am not fond of Johnson. For one thing, he thinks Nixon was the greatest president of the 20th century. All the more interesting that he made that statement about terrorism. (In Modern Times, however, he gives an Austrian explanation for the Great Depression.)

Let me second your remarks about the conquest of Canaan.

Kevin Carson said...

About the only thing Old Testament Hebrews have in common with modern speakers of Yiddish and Ladino is that they practiced an earlier form of the same religion. And I don't think the fact that someone practices the same religion as the people who inhabited an area 2000 people is much justification for taking the land of people who currently live there. There's probably less validity to the historical myth of modern Zionism than there was to Mussolini's claim to the heritage of the Roman Empire.

Some Randroids like to argue that Zionist settlers peacefully bought land in Palestine. But in fact, much of the land they bought was the quasi-feudal property of absentee Turkish landlords, and was rightfully owned by the Arab fellahs who worked it. Just another case of what Nock called political appropriation of the land.

BTW, if the Brits had taught the Stern Gang and Irgun that little lesson about the consequences of aggression, there wouldn't be an Israel today.

Sheldon Richman said...

For what it's worth:

"When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you. And when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. (Deutronomy 7:1-2)