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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.

Friday, October 06, 2006

History Lesson Lost

Call me nostalgic, but I still have a thing for the Articles of Confederation. Maybe it's the enticement of forbidden fruit. In the government schools I attended little if anything was said about the eight years during which the United States of America were governed under the Articles. The curriculum writers must have had a good reason for not devoting class time to that period. What didn't they want us to know?
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

3 comments:

JT said...

Yes, I think just about all of us would be better off if we'd stuck with the Articles of Confederation. The Bushes and Clintons would have less power to play around with (at home and abroad) but their loss would be almost everyone else's gain.

JT said...

Great TGIF column, by the way. I like how you write, "Whether democratization is good or bad depends on the context. When it is an assault on individual sovereignty, it is bad. But when it is a move against aristocracy and mercantilism, it is good. According to Jensen the proponents of democracy and local self-government were disfranchised, overtaxed small farmers trying to resist the entrenched mercantilist elite. They may not have been consistent libertarians, but they were more libertarian than their adversaries. Thus the attack on democracy can be seen as a defense of aristocracy. It doesn't look so good in that light. Dispersed power has long been a pillar of liberalism. Decentralization entails smaller jurisdictions, competition, and easier exit." Exactly! More often than not, libertarianism (support for freedom) and populism (support for democracy) are natural allies.

Sheldon Richman said...

Thank you, JT. I hope to be writing more about this interesting period. Libertarians really need to become acquainted with it so they can shed their constitutional sentimentalism. As I've written earlier, if you are going to play the constitution game, there is no alternative to a "living constitution" because people will always have to interpret it. That's in the nature of rules and language. No rule is self-interpreting and self-enforcing. A fixed constitution is a chimera.