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.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lysander Spooner


Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)

One of my heroes.

"But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another,
this much is certain--
that it has either authorized such a government as we have had,
or has been powerless to prevent it.
In either case, it is unfit to exist. "

(More here.)

4 comments:

Pete Eyre said...

Thanks for sharing Sheldon. I'm with you. Here's a post/vid we did at Spooner's gravestone in MA last summer if you have time/interest: http://motorhomediaries.com/spooner/

Patrick said...

Hi Sheldon: hope you get my comment here.

Question for you...why do you like this Spooner quote?

I ask because Constitutionalists have a very easy rebuttal to it. They of course say that it was the latter (ie. powerless to prevent)! As Michael Badnarik says, "The Constitution doesn't enforce itself."

But he would disagree with Spooner's conclusion that "it is unfit to exist"...because he would say that he, unlike Spooner, recognizes that the Constitution will only work if "people are vigilant and demand that the politicians follow it" or something.

So, Spooner has great arguments that piss all over the CONstitution, but I think that one is really weak.

Sheldon Richman said...

Patrick,

The Constitution was represented as a way to protect liberty. Liberty was not protected. It didn't deliver on the promise, or it never was intended to. So who needs it?

It took no effort to interpret it as a means of destroying liberty rather than protecting it. Again, who needs it?

Spooner would agree that the people must be vigilant about their liberty, but he might say that any constitution would weaken that vigilance precisely because it is represented as a means of securing liberty. If a constitution doesn't relieve us of the necessity for vigilance, why do we need any constitution setting up a government, which will always holds the seeds of expansion?

Patrick said...

<"Spooner would agree that the people must be vigilant about their liberty, but he might say that any constitution would weaken that vigilance precisely because it is represented as a means of securing liberty.">
OK, I think you're getting somewhere. That is a good point.

<"If a constitution doesn't relieve us of the necessity for vigilance, why do we need any constitution setting up a government, which will always holds the seeds of expansion?">

Good question. Constitutionalists might respond that "a Constitution helps make it public and objective what the government is allowed to do and not allowed to do. Without one the people might permit a more totalitarian government than they otherwise would."

Myself, I could grant the Constitutionalists that point (ie. that having a Constitution might slow down the expansion of the State). But I would reinforce and make sure they understand that having one can't stop the growth of the State--it at most can only slow the rate of that growth.



ps. when did u switch from archism to anti-archism? Was it before you wrote your books?