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, May 24, 2009

Revisionist History Day, 2009

Tomorrow is Revisionist History Day, what others call Memorial Day. In that spirit, I again quote a passage from the great antiwar movie The Americanization of Emily. This AP photo is a perfect illustration.
I don't trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It's always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a Hell it is. And it's always the widows who lead the Memorial Day parades . . . we shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows' weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices....

My brother died at Anzio – an everyday soldier’s death, no special heroism involved. They buried what pieces they found of him. But my mother insists he died a brave death and pretends to be very proud. . . . [N]ow my other brother can’t wait to reach enlistment age. That’ll be in September. May be ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, but the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution. What has my mother got for pretending bravery was admirable? She’s under constant sedation and terrified she may wake up one morning and find her last son has run off to be brave. [Emphasis added.]
Enjoy the day. I'll spend some of it reading the truth about the warfare state (Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic) and, I hope, watching Emily. Oh, and if there's time (I have to lecture today at the first FEE seminar), I'll begin Jeff Riggenbach's new book, Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism.

I have belatedly learned that the best scene in Emily is online:


Anonymous said...

You are a retarded fuckstick.

Sheldon Richman said...

For the record, Anon does not say I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

You are a retarded fuckstick and you are wrong.

Sheldon Richman said...

At least I have a frequent visitor and close reader. I can say for sure now that Anon is mistaken.

Troy said...

You wouldn't think Dick Cheney would read this blog, but looks like he does and has kept his usual good cheer even out of power.

dennis said...

Dammit, I used to post anonymously (it was just easier than typing a name in) but that guy has dishonored the moniker anonymous. Keep fighting the good fight Sheldon.

TSO said...

I would have to agree with Anon, you definitely are a retarded fuckstick. I only came over on a link, won't be back.

I'll go back to mourning friends I lost now, yea though you think them clowns who were simply taken advantage of, rather than guys who wanted to see those responsible for attacks on our country be brought to justice.

dennis said...

you'll be missed

Anonymous said...

Different Anons, lrn2internet you retarded fuckstick.

DBMS_Plumber said...


I'm not sure if Paddy C's little rant here is right or wrong. There is -- it seems to me -- something redemptive about dying in self-defense. And yet ... the film was released in 1964, remember?

But whatever this is, it sure isn't fuck-stickery. It's a profound question. You should be asking yourself, "If this is such obvious nonsense, why do I react with such hostility?"

Happy Memorial Day.

James said...

Great Post and Great Movie.

I can't wait for the day when there are no more Memorial Days and Anti-war films seem to obvious to be necessary.

Two Cheers Sheldon Richman,


Sheldon Richman said...

What's war have to do with self-defense? "Redemptive" is not the word I'd have used.

MCPO Airdale said...

Your ability to see beyond your own selfish needs and wants is severely lacking. Your total lack of understanding of the requirement of the nation to protect its vital, strategic interests is only redeemed by smug, superior and totally unwarranted belief in your own self-worth.

DBMS_Plumber said...

By 'redemptive' I simply mean 'exempted from being a stupid, empty act'.

And as for wars of self-defense, I alert you to the anarchist contribution to the republican side during the Spanish Civil War, or the Jewish resistance to the Nazis in eastern Europe. Opponents of state power organizing for mutual defense is not novel.

As a universal law, I have complete respect for the kind of principled pacifism you're describing. If everyone absorbed the lesson that war is ugly, stupid and meaningless, the world would be a much better place.

But that's the rub. It's not universally accepted. Not yet. And until it is I, can accept that there is a legitimate case for organized, violent struggles of resistance and self-defense.

(From which, BTW, it doesn't follow that any old bomb-thrower has a case. In fact, I can think of very, very few. Perhaps only the Jews of Warsaw. Or the Diggers of 1694.)

Mark Tele said...

Good post!
We should remember those who died in America's (far too frequent) wars, but just as--if not more--important, we should remember those who lied the country into these wars so that the next politician who tries to lie the country into yet another immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional war will fail.

John Markley said...

MCPO Airdale,

What does anything in this post have to do with Richman's "selfish needs and wants?" How,exactly, is Richman's aversion to seeing other people die in what he believes (correctly, in my view, but the point holds even if he's mistaken) to be senseless wars "selfish?" If instead he were advocating more warfare and calling on other people to sacrifice their lives, would that make him generous and self-sacrificing?

It's a good example of how statism warps people's standards of moral decency, when altruism is defined as a willingness to sacrifice other people to your own goals.

rmangum said...

Revisionist History Day: I love it! We need a libertarian calendar, don't we?

Tom said...


I tried to dig out an old issue of Liberty Magazine in which you commented that all the soldiers didn't die for their country but really died for the state. Unfortunately, I wasn't successful. That one brief statement moved you to the top of my list of libertarians I respect.

Lucy Stag's Not Friends said...

Bravo. I keep forgetting how amazing that film is, I need to watch it again.

I am fascinated by war, and admiring of certain people like my late letter-friend who was in the real Great Escape, but how can anyone debate the truth of what you say, and the brilliant lines from that movie? There's no argument.

Perry E. Metzger said...

I'm fascinated by the fact that Anonymous's best argument for the glory of war was to use an astonishingly uncreative epithet.

I'm also fascinated by the gentleman calling himself "TSO" who thinks there is a contradiction between our feeling sorry for his dead friends for dying needlessly and the fact that they joined believing (falsely) that they were part of a worthwhile endevour.

Keep up the good work, Sheldon.