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.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Iraq and Afghanistan Aren't the Only Occupied Countries

I'm increasingly of the mind that the critical difference between radical libertarians -- or voluntarists, or market anarchists -- and everyone else lies in understanding that we residents of the United States are under occupation -- by the U.S. government. This way of thinking about the political problem sheds light in a way that no alternative mode of thinking can. The point, then, is not to reform the occupier but rather to free ourselves of the occupation.

For more on this idea and its implications for "national defense," see the chapters by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel in Anarchy and the Law (with Don Lavoie) and The Myth of National Defense.


Jeremy said...

This is such a crucial point, thanks for reminding us of it. There is a continuum between the tactics of the military and police states overseas and the tactics of law enforcement and government here. If you don't recognize that, and if you comfort yourself by simply assuming you have "rights", you're setting yourself up to be blindsided.

In fact, I've been trying to acclimate myself to an outlook where I don't assume I have any rights that should be honored by the government. I try to live appreciating my freedom for what it is, and to maximize it on its own terms rather than on the terms of the corporate state.

Sheldon Richman said...

I always give a silent chuckle when I hear a libertarian say, "The purpose of government is to protect our rights." Where? When? It certainly was not the original purpose of government, which was exploitation of the productive class. Its origin was conquest not contract or the public good.

Hummel's chapters make a crucial point, namely, that protection against foreign states is a subset of a larger challenge, protection from any state, including the one we have the misfortune to live under. What keeps the U.S. government from violating our freedom even more than it does now? The answer can't be guns. It has more guns than we do. Ultimately, the answer is ideas, or ideology. There is a line, somewhere, that the government could not cross without inciting resistance. Our job is to move that line.

D. Saul Weiner said...

Yes, that is the crux of the problem, the notion that the USG is doing our bidding, the whole "of the people, by the people, for the people" nonsense. It is obvious when a foreign power who speaks a different language and looks different than the natives comes to occupy, but somehow the pols are able to convince the homestate citizens that they are one of us.

Jimi G said...

Democracy is the most pernicious form of government ever devised, with the central lie of "of, by, for" at the root of its deception. Since the vast majority are indoctrinated to believe this religious myth, it provides nearly impervious cover to the ruling class.

I can't help but wonder if, back in the days of kings and princes, the lines were more honestly drawn between ruler and ruled enough to move the line more in Sheldon's preferred direction. I know Toqueville wrote about these ideas.

At any rate, perhaps the coming depression and likely world war will rouse individuals from their slumber and effect change.

But ...

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Oh well.

Sheldon Richman said...

But at least democracy holds the potential for people to discover the truth and do something about it. In the past, radicals favored democracy as a move against aristocracy. Elitists opposed democracy for this reason. The battle in the colonies before the revolution and in the states before the (first) Constitution is instructive in this regard.

Jimi G said...

I don't quite know how to articulate this, but....

It seems to me that once "democracy" is instituted, the most likely outcome is the one world events has produced, the one in existence today.

Some fatal defect in human nature? The omnipresence of death?

It's like the old cliche question: would you rather live in the ascendancy of empire or its decline? Each has its merits, each is inescapable.

Founding one's own independent society on the smallest possible scale -- a Galt's Gulch -- is the only practical means of achieving freedom at the societal level. EEverything else is just buying time, and time is in short supply.

LarryRuane said...

I love Robert Higgs's way of making a very similar point, from his newest book _Neither Liberty nor Safety_

H. L. Mencken famously said that "every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." By now, however, I am no longer ashamed, because I do not identify with the government under which I live. Rather, I view it as a criminal organization that without provocation has chosen to make war on my just rights -- not only mine, of course, but everyone's. Although this vile enterprise is my problem, because it robs and bullies me relentlessly and without mercy, it is not my responsibility: the nail is not the hammer. I did not ask for it, and I do not want it. I fervently desire that it would simply disappear without a trace, leaving individuals free to conduct their affairs by means of voluntary cooperation, free of its incessant, gratuitous threats of force and violence against unoffending people, and free of the ceaseless, insulting drumbeat of its moronic propaganda.