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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.

Friday, September 28, 2018

TGIF: Spinoza – A Man for Our Troubled Times


In these interesting times, we all need someone to admire. I have found such a one in Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677), the 17th-century rationalist liberal philosopher who advocated freedom of thought and expression, toleration, and simple kindness.
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, September 14, 2018

You Might Be an Anti-Semite

Kenneth Marcus, head of the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, is the Jeff Foxworthy of the American Israelist movement. When he says, "If you do X (call Israel a racist endeavor, express sympathy for Palestinian self-determination, support BDS, and so on ad infinitum), you might be an anti-Semite," he means: "You're definitely an anti-Semite."

TGIF: Are We Sure It Can’t Happen Here?

One runs a risk whenever one cites the 20th century’s great terror states while discussing current ominous developments in the western democracies. Apparent comparisons of the United States or western and central European countries to Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia will inevitably be hooted down with accusations of alarmist conspiracy-mongering and worse, shameful ahistoricity. Nevertheless, that must not keep us from noticing and pointing to contemporary events that bear an eerie resemblance, however slight, to things that went on in those totalitarian terror states. Such regimes don’t spring up overnight. They emerge, and looking at history, we can see that their more or less gradual emergence have telltale signs that we would do well to keep an eye out for. We can’t rest comfortably with the cliche that “it can’t happen here.” Yes, we risk overinterpreting events, but perhaps that is better than underinterpreting them.
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, September 09, 2018

Whom to Read Next?



When I am working on deciding on my next course of reading, it's as though the authors are standing before me to make their cases. Right now, Spinoza and Arendt are debating. Arendt is the more persuasive at the moment. I love Spinoza, but something in Arendt makes my core vibrate. It is something like excitement -- with a dash of fear. It's very odd.

I can accept a world of scarcity in all things except time.

Friday, September 07, 2018

TGIF: Trump, Spinoza, and the Palestinian Refugees

As though we had any ground for doubt heretofore, we can now clearly see — in light of his end to $350 million in annual humanitarian assistance to five million Palestinian refugees — Donald Trump’s cruel and spiteful nature.
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!

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Tyranny and Cooperation

Social phenomena -- both good and bad -- cannot happen without cooperation -- that is, without people doing things uncoerced. This is especially clear with bad phenomena. How much havoc could a Stalin, a Hitler, a Mao Zedong, or a Pol Pot wreak alone or with just a few trusted deputies? Obviously, a ruler needs many others to cooperate with him. Importantly, cooperation does not require understanding. Most people will not grasp the tyrant’s project, much less endorse it. But one way or another they will go along actively and passively (abstaining from resistance). Why? Because they have learned -- from parents, teachers, youth-group leaders, peers -- that that is just what one does: one respects the “law of the land,” which is seen as the will of the legitimate ruler(s) or of the people, depending on the reigning ideology, but is in fact merely a series of decrees (statutes, executive orders, etc.) widely believed to be authoritative. So coercion is unnecessary. But even when it is required, the tyrant still needs the cooperation of those called on to enforce the decrees. Should they defy their orders, the cooperation of others will be relied on to have those orders carried out. Etc. The ruled always outnumber the rulers. If no one cooperates, the tyrant must abandon his project or do his own dirty work. But that means the damage he could inflict would necessarily be small-scale. Moreover, acting alone, the tyrant would be exposed as a fraud, a mere freelance thug. In the end, evil systems can exist only because enough unthoughtful people cooperate with authority, unthoughtful in Hannah Arendt's sense, that is, in the sense that they never ask themselves if they have a better reason to respect the authority's decrees than “it’s the law.” I think this is what Arendt meant by “the banality of evil.”

(For more, see my "Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System!" and the chapter "The Constitution of Anarchy" in my book America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

American Herald Tribune Interview

Mohsen Abdelmoumen of the American Herald Tribune interviewed me recently on a variety of timely subjects. Read it here.