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.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution of independence, submitted by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, declaring that "these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

Two days later, July 4, the Congress approved a document, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, intended to explain why independence was proper and necessary. We call that document the Declaration of Independence.

11 comments:

Stephan Kinsella said...

Sheldon, given your endorsement of Hummel's great piece on the squalid process that led to the Constitution itself, I'm surprised to see you endorsing (or at least being neutral about) the Declaration and American secession from Britain. Surely we libertarians should not be conned by the mythology about this event either? It was a mistake, no? Maybe not as squalid as the Constitution, but it led to it.

Sheldon Richman said...

Well, it didn't have to lead to it. Human beings have free will. I agree with Jeff Hummel that on the whole, the Revolution was a good and important event, despite some regrettable features. I recommend Hummel's FEE lecture "The Radicalism of the American Founding."

Stephan Kinsella said...

Oh, you naive utopians. :)

You just haven't gone far enough yet in your radicalism. If you want my Jefferson and Declaration framed prints, let me know, I'm getting rid of them! Down with Jefferson! Down with the Declaration. Down with the Founders. Death to the infidels. Wait, scratch that last. :)

Sheldon Richman said...

Humbug!

Mike D. said...

You don't have to endorse the Constitution or constitutionalism to believe that the act of throwing off an oppressive government is a good thing, even if it was later replaced with another one.

Stephan, I'm curious as to how you reconcile your distaste for American independence from Great Britain with your apparent preference for Southern Independence during the Civil War, and your general advocacy for secession and federalism. Is there something I'm missing?

Stephan Kinsella said...

Mike D:

"Stephan, I'm curious as to how you reconcile your distaste for American independence from Great Britain with your apparent preference for Southern Independence during the Civil War, and your general advocacy for secession and federalism. Is there something I'm missing?"

First, I have never preferred or defended the murderous, conscripting CSA or its secession. I have only objected to the Union's illegal and monstrous war to stop it (I also object to King George's use of force to try to stop the US from seceding).

Second: ceteris paribus, it's better when states break up. but in the case of US secession from britain, it's not ceteris paribus, since we *becamse worse* by becoming a *worse form of government*.

In the CSA-USA case, the CSA became actualy better in many ways than the USA (its constitution was better), but in any event about the same kind of state that it was before.

BTW I just posted this on Mises Blog: Happy We-Should-Restore-The-Monarchy-And-Rejoin-Britain Day!

Mike D. said...

"First, I have never preferred or defended the murderous, conscripting CSA or its secession. I have only objected to the Union's illegal and monstrous war to stop it (I also object to King George's use of force to try to stop the US from seceding)."

Fair enough. This is essentially my stance on both matters as well, FWIW.

"Second: ceteris paribus, it's better when states break up. but in the case of US secession from britain, it's not ceteris paribus, since we *becamse worse* by becoming a *worse form of government*."

I also agree with this point, but I am not as staunchly federalist as you are. Would you say that this point also applies to federalism? "Ceteris paribus, federalism is preferable to centralism, but in the case of DC v Heller it is not ceteris paribus, since DC's laws were worse than those of the Federal Government"?

D. Saul Weiner said...

I think we can also cut (at least most of the) Founding Fathers from slack since at that time there was not really a theory of a stateless society such as we have today and that they were doing the best they could with the knowledge that they had.

Patrick said...

D Saul Weiner: I agree with your point. I can't think of one logically-consistent libertarian thinker around at the time. The idea just hadn't occurred to anyone.

Bob Kaercher said...

"I can't think of one logically-consistent libertarian thinker around at the time. The idea just hadn't occurred to anyone."

You mean it just hadn't occurred to any of the founders not to inflate paper money or conscript men into their army? That claim seems a bit odd, considering these were supposedly the kinds of things they were rebelling against!

Sheldon Richman said...

The militias used conscripts. The revolution was not fought with only volunteers.