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, July 19, 2011

Bryan Caplan on Pacifism

I highly recommend listening to Bryan Caplan's debate with Ilya Somin on the question of pacifism (i.e., opposition to war, not opposition to violent individual self-defense). Listen or download it here. I found the debate an illuminating discussion of theory and history, and -- admitting my bias forthrightly -- I believe Bryan carried the day. Some relevant matters did not come up -- such as the deep domestic effects of a national security state, the structural consequences of a military-industrial complex, and Public Choice considerations regarding rent-seeking and mission creep -- which strengthen Bryan's case.

In my view Somin's plea to "give war a chance" fails.

If you are interested in war and peace, you should listen to this debate.

1 comment:

Eric Hanneken said...

I think Bryan makes a good case against aggressive war, as a policy. He allows that sometimes aggressive wars can leave the world better off, but we are poor at foresight, and anyway the incentives for governments are wrong.

I'm not quite convinced by his case against defensive war, which he elaborates here. (The best part of his argument: What's wrong with defensive wars is "the same thing wrong with every war.") As one of the commenters to that blog post put it, "a marginal increase in pacifism would be a very good thing, but a total change to pacifism reduces the costs of aggressive war to zero." I agree with Bryan that in many (most?) wars, the citizens of the defending country would have been better or no worse off if their government had immediately surrendered. But if that became a policy, wouldn't the worst get on top?