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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.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Thomas Szasz: An Appreciation


Thomas Szasz (sass), the most underrated libertarian in modern times, was born this day in 1920 in Budapest, Hungary. He came to the U.S. at 18 and died in 2012. A psychiatrist by training and a practicing therapist and professor, Szasz was the world's leading critic of organized psychiatry and its coercive powers (involuntary commitment, forced drugging, etc.), as well as the most incisive opponent of drug prohibition and, generally, of what he called the "therapeutic state." He opposed political power because he believed in self-ownership, individual liberty, and human dignity.

Szasz burst on the scene nearly 60 years ago with his pathbreaking book, The Myth of Mental Illness, which argued that the mind, not being an organ, cannot be diseased; thus the term "mental illness" is a category mistake. What is stigmatized by that "diagnosis" is the "patient's" behavior that disturbs someone else. The switch from "mental illness" to "brain disorder" did not change the fact that what is typically bothersome is behavior (which may indeed be objectionable and even coercive). The attribution of such behavior to a brain state is an unproven and even unprovable inference. Human action has reasons, not causes, Szasz would say.

At Amazon.com you'll find a cornucopia of books demolishing the case for the state's deputization of physicians, particularly psychiatrists. A good book to start with is Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences, his magnum opus. You should also search his name at FEE.org for the columns he wrote while I edited The Freeman.

Meanwhile, to get a sense of what Szasz was about at the deepest level, see my "Szasz in One Lesson" and watch this interview I did with him.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

It Can't Be Said Too Often

When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves.
--Herbert Spencer

Friday, April 13, 2018

TGIF: The Dangerous Deficit in Trade Understanding

I was chatting with my tobacconist the other day -- I have no rabbi, no priest, no minister, no imam, no chiropractor, and no lawyer, but I do have a tobacconist -- when it struck me that my trade deficit with him is astronomical.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

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Friday, April 06, 2018

TGIF: Who's Afraid of Russian Propaganda?

If the reader will indulge me, I want to relate some further thoughts about the concern over Russia and the American political system. For the sake of discussion I will assume that expressions of this concern are sincere, that "Russia" did what it's alleged to have done, and that the American political system, over which officialdom is fretting, is generally wholesome. (In fact, I believe those assumptions to be rubbish.)

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, March 30, 2018

TGIF: Cambridge Analytica -- Bogey of the Week

The panic over Cambridge Analytica looks like an acknowledgment that Russiagate is a losing horse. 
CA is the latest excuse for Hillary Clinton's ignominious loss to Donald Trump, following "the Russians" and former FBI Director James Comey. Since those others haven't exactly carried the day -- still no evidence given against Russia and plenty of unflattering stuff came out about Trump when Comey was grandstanding -- it must have been time for a new tack. CA's psychographic microtargeting appeared to fill the bill.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, March 23, 2018

TGIF: The Iraq Invasion after 15 Years

On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. government's criminal, catastrophic, and still-to-this-day consequential war against Iraq in March 2003, I wrote:
It is no exaggeration to say that most news operations were little more than extensions of the White House Office of Communications. Abandoning even the pretense of an adversarial relationship with the government, the media became shameful conduits for unsubstantiated and outright false information about Saddam Hussein’s alleged threat to the American people. Included among the falsehoods were reports that Saddam had a hand in the 9/11 attacks, had trained al-Qaeda fighters, and had attempted to obtain uranium ore and aluminum tubes for nuclear bombs. 
Put bluntly, the disastrous invasion of Iraq, which was sold on the basis of lies told by President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, [CIA Director George Tenet,] Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and others might not have happened without the enthusiastic help of the New York TimesWashington PostWall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and others. The blood of more than a hundred thousand — perhaps more than a million — Iraqis and 4,500 [now nearer to 5,000] Americans is on their hands too.


TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Presumption of Innocence: Not Just for the Courtroom

Journalist Peter Hitchens wrote the following in the connection with the events in Salisbury, England, involving a former Russian double agent and his daughter, but it is worth keeping in mind always:

The presumption of innocence is not just a great liberty and defence against state power. It can also help investigators avoid the obvious conclusion, and carry on pursuing other lines of inquiry which might otherwise escape attention.

After all, isn’t the point of almost every detective story we read and see on the TV that the police tend to arrest the obvious suspect, and it is hardly ever the right one? As Sherlock Holmes used to say, as he began work with his magnifying glass, and his clients pressed him for an instant verdict ‘It is a capital error to theorise without data’. Also, it is amazing how wrong the obvious solution can be. I take the opportunity, yet again, to urge everyone to read Josephine Tey’s severely brilliant novel ‘the Franchise Affair’, in which dogged, sceptical inquiry reveals that something apparently impossible is true, and that the obvious, unpopular suspects in a crime are (in that particular case) wholly innocent of it. Once you have read it you will never view a criminal case or trial in the same way.

Friday, March 16, 2018

TGIF: Economic Nationalism: Elitism in Populist Clothing

My old friend and former American Conservative editor Dan McCarthy gets it all wrong about Donald Trump's "national security" tariffs on aluminum and steel.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, March 09, 2018

TGIF: Trading Places

"What protection teaches us, is to do to ourselves in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war." --Henry George
When Donald Trump can propose tariffs on imported steel, aluminum, washing machines, and solar-panels without being roundly booed off the stage, one has to wonder if reason has any power to win the day. Is this truly a democracy of dunces?
Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, March 02, 2018

TGIF: The Grammar of Russiagate

Closely observing the grammar of the Official Russiagate Narrative is revealing and instructive. It provides clues to the (language-)game being played.
Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The U.S. Role in the War in Yemen: What You Can Do

Since March 2015, U.S.-supported airstrikes in Yemen have implicated us in what is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Military action by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition is the leading cause of civilian casualties in Yemen, as they repeatedly target schools, hospitals, weddings, public markets, water and sanitation systems, and other vital civilian infrastructure – all probable war crimes carried out with U.S. support.

It’s time to end America’s role in what is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Join us on Thursday, March 1 at 8 PM EST to learn about the U.S. role in this suffering, and learn how you can take action for Yemeni civilians. Click here to RSVP.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

TGIF: The Tragedy and Comedy of Russiagate

The whole election-meddling distraction is remarkable in both comic and tragic ways. The tragedy can be summed up in three words: New Cold War. At a time when the U.S. and Russian governments ought to be working toward nuclear disarmament, relations are deteriorating dangerously.
Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, February 16, 2018

TGIF: "Peace Through Strength" Is a Racket

Donald Trump has embraced the popular "peace through strength" doctrine (PTSD) with his characteristic panache: 
"I’m going to make our military so big, so powerful, so strong, that nobody — absolutely nobody — is gonna to mess with us," Trump says. On other occasions he's said similar things: "We want to defer, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength" and, a year ago, "Nobody is going to mess with us. Nobody. It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history."
Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Radio Interview: Why I Am Proud NOT to Have “Served” in Vietnam

I was on the Craig Silverman Show yesterday talking about why I am proud not to have "served" in Vietnam. Listen here.

Friday, February 09, 2018

TGIF: Raining on the Parade

Of course Donald Trump wants a military parade. I'd be surprised if he didn't. It's just what an insecure narcissist would want. A parade would be the national equivalent of his strutting around like a peacock, dying to turn heads. Even a politician can see that: "I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy said. "America is the most powerful country in all of human history; you don't need to show it off."

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, February 02, 2018

TGIF: The Church of America

One myth that Americans live by is the separation of church and state. Some like the idea; others hate it; but the irony is that church and state were not separated at the founding of the United States and are not separate now. In fact, they were united in the sense that the state is a church — the Church of America — and you can’t separate a thing from itself. The religion this church administers is not Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, or anything else that comes to mind when most people think the word religion. It’s Americanism, a species of nationalism. Nationalism and religion are cut from the same cloth.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.

Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, January 26, 2018

TGIF: The Voice of American Workers Is a Charlatan

Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed voice of American working people, has decreed that the prices of washing machines and solar panels shall rise.

So it is written. So it is done.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Protectionism, Freedom, and a Frustrating Day at the Pipe Shop

One of my haunts is a local tobacco shop, where I regularly drop in to smoke a few bowls of fine pipe tobacco and talk to a fine group of friends and acquaintances. I go there to relax, which is what pipe smoking is all about, but part of yesterday's visit was anything but relaxing.

I happened to bring up Trump's new tariffs on washing-machine and solar-panel imports, pointing out, of course, that the tariffs are a tax on American consumers and a slap at all Americans who don't make their living in the washing-machine and solar-panel industries. In other words, the special interests triumphed over individual and general welfare.

To my (naive) surprise, the small group of people sitting around what we affectionately call "the table of knowledge" couldn't believe what I was saying. They favored the tariffs because they believed Trump's action would help all Americans and punish the Chinese. That's all they "knew" or needed to know.

When I tried to explain that their belief was mistaken, they would not hear it. It had apparently never occurred to them that the action would harm consumers and Americans who make things other than the targeted goods, that is, the vast majority of the people in the country. (Some America First policy, right?)

It also never occurred to them that we live in a world of scarcity. If Americans and resources are employed to make washing machines and solar panels, they can't be employed to make other things. (That's physics as well as economics.) So my friends did not see that if we buy washing machines and solar panels from somewhere other than America, we can have them plus the other things Americans would produce. But if the government raises the prices of the imports to keep domestic firms going -- which is the point of tariffs -- we won't get those other things.

In other words, along with scarcity, my tobacco brotherhood had no appreciation of the division of labor.

They also did not see that if we have to spend more money on washing machines and solar panels, we'll have less money to spend on other goods and services, harming us both as consumers and as producers of those other goods and services. Nor did they grasp that tariffs reduce the number of dollars foreigners have with which to buy American exports or that an ensuing trade war would also harm American exporters.

To use Paul Heyne's expression, my friends were strangers to the economic way of thinking. They are hardly unusual in that respect. Most people have had no contact with the economic way of thinking when it comes to government policy, although they engage in it whenever they shop.

Think of what this means for the theory of representative democracy? Much of what the government does is interfere with our economic pursuits. Therefore, most of what "our" so-called representatives -- I call them misrepresentatives -- do is enact legislation consciously designed for such interference. That means candidates for office ought to be judged on what they know about basic economics and the consequences of interference. How can we expect people to be competent participants -- informed voters -- in this system if they don't understand the most basic economic principles?

Needless to say, the matter of individual liberty made no difference in the discussion. All they saw was Trump helping "Americans" and slamming foreigners.

Cross-posted at The Libertarian Institute.

Is Trump Planning a Tactical Nuclear Strike on Kim Jong Un?

From Business Insider:
The US has been quietly amassing firepower in the Pacific during a lull in tensions with North Korea, but recent developments on an under-the-radar nuclear weapon suggest preparation for a potential tactical nuclear strike. [Emphasis added.] 
The US recently sent B-2 stealth bombers to Guam, where they joined B-1 and B-52s, the other bombers in the US's fleet. 
While the B-2 and B-52 are known as the air leg of the US's nuclear triad, as they carry nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles, a smaller nuclear weapon that has undergone some upgrades may lend itself to a strike on North Korea.
Color me skeptical, even in the Trump context. This is too crazy on many levels.

Cross-posted at The Libertarian Institute.

Friday, January 19, 2018

TGIF: Trump versus the World

According to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, somewhere President Donald Trump, instead of saying, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries…. We should have more people from Norway.,” said, “Why don’t we allow more people from shithole countries to come here? They need a decent place to live and work and succeed. Their rulers hold them back. The Norwegians don’t need America as badly. After all, Norway ranks 25th in the Index of Economic Freedom. Let’s be compassionate toward the world’s poorest and most subjugated people. Besides, we’d also benefit from their coming to America.”

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!

Friday, January 12, 2018

TGIF: Trump and No Silver Lining

I confess I was indulging in wishful thinking when I thought I detected a silver lining to Donald Trump's election as president. That's what comes of being an optimist and a libertarian romantic. Beware apparent silver linings; they may be fool's gold instead.

Read TGIF at The Libertarian Institute.

TGIF (The Goal Is Freedom) appears on Fridays. Sheldon Richman, author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is executive editor of The Libertarian Institute. He is also a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. Become a Free Association patron today!