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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, May 31, 2016

To Persuade, Speak the Language

To persuade people to the freedom philosophy we must speak in the vernacular. In election seasons, that entails relating ideas to candidates -- not only unacceptable ones but also superior ones when they are present. The goal is freedom through persuasion, not merely the self-gratification of purity.

Gary Johnson: The Cost of War

Monday, May 30, 2016

Revisionist History Day, 2016



Today is Revisionist History Day, what others call Memorial Day. Americans are supposed to remember the country's war dead while being thankful that they protected our freedom and served our country. However, reading revisionist history (see a sampling below) or alternative news sites (start with Antiwar.com and don't forget to listen to the Scott Horton Show) teaches that the fallen were doing no such thing. Rather they were and are today serving cynical politicians and the "private" component of the military-industrial complex in the service of the American Empire.

The state inculcates an unquestioning faith in its war-making by associating it with patriotism, heroism, and the defense of "our freedoms." This strategy builds in its own defense against any criticism of the government's policies. Anyone who questions the morality of a war is automatically suspected of being unpatriotic, unappreciative of the bravery that has "kept us free," and disrespectful of "our troops," in a word, un-American.

To counter this common outlook, which people are indoctrinated in from birth and which is shared by conservatives and Progressives alike, we should do what we can to teach others that the government's version of its wars is always self-serving and threatening to life, liberty, and decency.

In that spirit, I quote a passage from the great antiwar movie The Americanization of Emily. You'll find a video of the scene below. This AP photo is a perfect illustration of what "Charlie Madison" is talking about.
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.]

Here's an all-too-incomplete list of books in no particular order (some of which I've read, some of which I intend to read):
  • We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now, edited by Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods Jr.
  • The Failure of America's Foreign Wars, edited by Richard M. Ebeling and Jacob G. Hornberger
  • America's Second Crusade, by William Henry Chamberlin
  • Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal, by Ralph Raico
  • Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism, by Jeff Riggenbach
  • War Is a Lie, by David Swanson
  • War Is a Racket, by Smedley D. Butler
  • WartimeUnderstanding and Behavior in the Second World War, by Paul Fussell
  • Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War, by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
  • The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, by William Appleman Williams
  • Empire as a Way of Life, by William Appleman Williams
  • The Civilian and the Military: A History of the American Antimilitarist Tradition, by Arthur Ekirch
  • The Politics of War: The Story of Two Wars which Altered Forever the Political Life of the American Republic, 1890-1920, by Walter Karp
  • The Costs of War, edited by John Denson
  • Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, by Stephen Kinzer
  • All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, by Stephen Kinzer
  • Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, by Chalmers Johnson
  • The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, by Chalmers Johnson
  • War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges
  • A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, by David Fromkin (This book has serious flaws, but it nonetheless shows the cynicism of the European imperialists.)
  • The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, by David Hirst
  • Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab Relations, 1820-2001, by Ussama Makdisi
  • Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, by Max Blumenthal
  • Genesis: Truman, Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict, by John B. Judis
  • The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination, by Jeremy R. Hammond
  • The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe
  • The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, by Miko Peled
  • Assault on the Liberty, by James N. Ennes Jr.
  • Wilson's War: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World War II, by Jim Powell
  • American Empire: Before the Fall, by Bruce Fein
  • Endless Enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World, by Jonathan Kwitny
  • The Emergency State: America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs, by David C. Unger
  • The War State: The Cold War Origins Of The Military-Industrial Complex And The Power Elite, 1945-1963, by Michael Swanson
  • Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, by Nicholson Baker
  • Pearl Harbor: The Seeds and Fruits of Infamy, by Percy Greaves
  • Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath, by John Toland
  • Day of Deceit: The Truth about  FDR and Pearl Harbor, by Robert Stinnett
  • Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, by Daniel Ellsberg
  • The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, by Nick Turse
  • "War is the Health of the State," by Randolph Bourne
  • War, Peace, and the State, by Murray Rothbard
  • “‘Ancient History’: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention,” by Sheldon Richman
  • "War's Still a Racket," by Sheldon Richman
By the way, if you can't help but think of this day as "memorial day," then at least spend part of it remembering how the U.S. government has caused the deaths of so many people.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Patriot's Lament

On Saturday, Joshua Bennett interviewed me about America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited on his radio program, "Patriot's Lament." Here's the audio.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Ya Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

Since we can never make airports perfectly safe, I guess we'll just have to liquidate the empire and stop bombing Muslim countries. Oh well, ya gotta do what you gotta do.

Put This on Your Resume, Mrs. Clinton

Can you imagine Hillary Clinton sitting in judgment over who is and is not qualified to be president? 

Ponder this: in 2011 ISIS was not in Libya, first, because Libya was not an open war zone and, second, because ISIS did not exist. Then the US, at Clinton's insistence, bombed Libya, helping to overthrow the government, while fomenting a jihadist war against the Syrian government. Today the US is fighting ISIS in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. 

Put that on your famous resume, Mrs. Clinton. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Nakba Day, 2016

Palestinian_refugees

Today is Nakba Day, the day set aside to remember the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian Arabs in 1948 in connection with the creation of the “Jewish State” of Israel. Over 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and villages, and many massacred, in an ethnic-cleansing operation that should shock the conscience. Hundreds of villages were erased and replaced by Jewish towns. The Arabs who remained in the Israeli state that was imposed on them by the UN and Zionist military forces have been second-class citizens, at best, from that time.

Since 1967 the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, many of whom were refugees from the 1948 catastrophe, have lived under the boot of the Israeli government. Their day-to-day lives are under the arbitrary control of the Israeli government. Gaza is an open-air blockaded prison camp subject to periodic military onslaughts (the latest was last year), while the West Bank is relentlessly gobbled up by Jewish-only settlements and violated by a wall that surrounds Palestinian towns and cuts people’s homes off from their farms. For the Israeli ruling elite, the so-called peace process is a sham. Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now embarking on an unprecedented fourth term as prime minister, rejects any realistic plan to let the Palestinians go -- that is, have their own country on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He insists that they must recognize Israel as the Jewish state, that is, as the state of Jews everywhere, even though it sits largely on stolen property (PDF) -- which raises an interesting question: Is subjugation of the Palestinians an instantiation of Jewish values or is it not? If it is (as apparently most of its supporters believe), then what does that say for Jewish values? If it is not, then what does that say for Israel's purported status as the Jewish State?

Again, I note that the best short introduction to the catastrophe is Jeremy Hammond’s The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. Further, Hammond debunks the myth that the United Nations created the state of Israel.

Hammond

Additional reading: "Why the Inconvenient Truths of the Nakba Must Be Recognized," by Tom Pessah; "The Anti-Semite's Best Friend," by Jonathan Cook;  "Israel Must Recognize Its Responsibility for the Nakba, the Palestinian Tragedy," by Saeb Erekat; and "The sacking of Jaffa during the Palestinian Nakba, as narrated by three Omars," by Allison Deger.

(Another version of this post appeared previously.)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Guess Who

At least one presidential candidate speaks favorably of printing money to pay the national debt and of taxing the rich. At least one candidate promises not to raise taxes on the middle class, although inflation (printing money) and tariffs are taxes on the middle class (and everyone else).

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

What Were We Thinking?

What made any of us think that Republicans wouldn't go for Trump? I mean, what were we thinking?

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Obama's War

If the death of the Navy SEAL in Iraq prompts the US government to withdraw from the Middle East, he will have not died in vain.

Monday, May 02, 2016

First, Do No Harm

Much harm has come from conflating "isolationism" (better: noninterventionism) with unilateralism.