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 29, 2008

Catching Up

I've been on the road and Free Association is one of the things I've neglected. Here's an attempt to catch up:
"It's like taking a bucket of water from the deep end of a pool and dumping it into the shallow end. Funny thing -- the water in the shallow end doesn't get any deeper."

That's how George Mason University economist Russell Roberts describes the logic -- rather, illogic -- of the economic "stimulus" proposals that everyone and his uncle are proposing.

The rest of last week's TGIF, "An Unstimulating Idea," is at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Republican presidential contender Ron Paul certainly deserves credit for putting the foreign policy of noninterventionism into the public debate. It’s about time. For decades U.S. presidents have sought to manage the world in behalf of what they call “American interests,” and all it has brought is death, mayhem, anti-Americanism, and a price tag that would blow the average citizen’s mind if he fully grasped it.

Yes, the time for this debate is long overdue. Unfortunately, the quality of the debate on the other side is pathetic.

The rest of my latest op-ed, "Pathetic Arguments for Foreign Intervention," is at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.


Kevin Craig said...

In your fff.org article, you quote Bret Stephens: "There is a not-incidental connection here between libertarianism and pacifism."

You reply, "Leave it to an interventionist to think that the opposite of imperialism is pacifism."

Your reply to Stephens is incisive, but I wonder if it has in common with most people an understanding of "pacifism" which is largely a caricature.

I confess to being something of a "pacifist," and unfortunately, some small-minded people I know have concluded that they must not vote for Ron Paul because he must be a "pacifist" (since I support him).

I would like to deal with this fallacious reasoning with a libertarian position paper which is generally libertarian, but also somewhat "macho" on national defense. Something that articulates a "non-pacifist" libertarian position on the military.

Can you recommend such an essay?


Sheldon Richman said...

I was using the strict definition, which holds that force may not be used even in self-defense. Robert LeFevre is a libertarian who consistent subscribed to this position. LeFevre did not believe that a hostage had the right to cut his captor's ropes to escape because it would violate the captor's property rights in the rope.

Offhand I do not know of a good essay on the issue.

I am sympathetic to the term in its weaker sense, namely, the belief that force, even when morally permissible, is usually counterproductive and should be considered only when no alternative is apparent.

Jimi G said...

"LeFevre did not believe that a hostage had the right to cut his captor's ropes to escape because it would violate the captor's property rights in the rope."

While LeFevre had many wise thoughts, this one is a bit ridiculous. Surely the person held against his will could cut the ropes and injure his captor's property rights while making restitution at the earliest possible moment after regaining his freedom, if one believes such things.

LeFevre's ideas aside, I think anyone is capable of a thought experiment about pacifism, and could recognize that the only way to eliminate force from the world is TOTAL ABSTENTION, even in self-defense. It would be incredibly heroic to choose death over self-initiation of force, and it is beyond all but the most infinitesimal minority of humans to achieve. Nonetheless, that is the only route to elimination of human-initiated and human-targeted force in the world. The answer to force is not more force!

What the conclusion of the experiment demonstrates is that the elimination of force from human society (as presently constructed) is IMPOSSIBLE and should be abandoned.

The corollary is that the individual pacifist has success under his own control, if he will take it.

Albert Jay Nock recognized this when he wrote that all an individual can do is present the world with one improved unit -- himself.