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.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Which Politician Came Up with the Idea that Dying for Your Country Is a Good Thing?

Watched Clint Eastwood's two excellent Iwo Jima movies, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima," this weekend. Moral: the world would be a better place if no one thought his country was something to fight or die for. That's also the moral of "The Americanization of Emily." I highly recommend all three movies.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.


climbjumprun said...

I'm in the military and have been deployed four times. I did not join the military to fight and possibly die just for my country - this government, US citizens, the president. I joined the military because I believe that certain principles are worth defending, even if it means my death or that I might have to kill another. The idea of a constitutional republic based on individual rights, the rule of law, and civil society is worth fighting for.

I recognize that the military is not always used for defending that principle. That's why I read your blog and others like it. I support politicians who I believe will not misuse the military or increase the size or scope of the government outside of its constitutional limits.

So I don't entirely agree with you here, because I think there is an appropriate use of military force in defending certain principles. Defending individualism and reason from the threat of totalitarianism - whether Communist, Fascist, Islamist, or other - is, in my opinion, worth fighting and even dying for.

D. Saul Weiner said...


Your honesty and idealism are to be commended, but I think that the notion that the state can fight the evils you listed is not based on reality. Every time that the state allegedly endeavors to fight these evils, it becomes more evil itself - more Communistic, more Fascistic.

climbjumprun said...

If individual rights are worth fighting for and the state is truly limited to ensuring and defending individual rights in society, what if that state is threatened or attacked by a totalitarian entity? Wouldn't it be justified to fight for that state?

I know the US government's scope is not limited to ensuring individual rights, but I thinks it's true that the US was founded on this idea more than most other states. Would it ever be possible through political activism or some other means to bring the US more in line with the principle of preserving and defending individual rights?

steven said...

Climbjumprun, so long as each individual is allowed to decide for himself what is worth fighting for, and/or what is worth paying someone else to fight for, then I agree with you. But that's not the way states work, is it?

D. Saul Weiner said...

Individual rights are worth fighting for, but the state is the mortal enemy of them. Yes, some are worse than others, but even the ones that seem relatively benign can and do get more malignant over time.

Your question regarding whether or not it is possible to bring the US more in line with defending individual rights is a good one. I suppose it is possible, but I think there is too much ignorance right now to have much hope. We can be sure that it will only happen if the state's back is up against the wall, not out of any epiphany on the part of our rulers. I am afraid the only chance for it is if conditions degenerate significantly. But there is also a good chance that under that scenario, individual rights will suffer even more.

d.eris said...

I am reminded of the great quote from Patton (the man and the movie): "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

MarkZ said...

The very notion of joining a team (funded through taxation, btw) to kill the soldier owned by another government is anti-individualistic.

climbjumprun said...

Is it contrary to individualism to voluntarily join a group to defend against tyranny and fight for a society based on individual rights?

Surely the use of violence itself is not contrary to individualism. Wouldn't a group of individualists attacked by a group of collectivists be justified in defending themselves?

steven said...

Climbjumprun, sure they would be justified in defending themselves. But they would not be justified to enlist others, by force, to defend them. In enlisting others by force, they would be acting as oppressors. That's the problem with states waging war. States are not about individualism, states are about using force to make others do their bidding.

Patrick said...

Climbjumprun: have you read Murray N. Rothbard's path-breaking essay War, Peace, and the State?

In it he goes over some very important insights that I see you are missing!

Anonymous said...

"Is it contrary to individualism to voluntarily join a group to defend against tyranny and fight for a society based on individual rights?"

Depends. How voluntary is it? What constitutes "defense" (ie. does it include unprovoked meddling and "pre-emptive" strikes?)? How is this group funded and maintained? And is there even such a thing as a society (one that's large enough to wage war) "based on individual rights?"