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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.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hayek on Rules, Tradition, and Freedom

There is advantage in obedience to such [moral and other social] rules not being coerced, not only because coercion as such is bad, but because it is, in fact, often desirable that rules would be observed only in most instances and that the individual should be able to transgress them when it seems to him worthwhile to incur the odium which this will cause. It is also important that the strength of the social pressure and of the force of habit which insures their observance is variable. It is this flexibility of voluntary rules which in the field of morals makes gradual evolution and spontaneous growth possible, which allows further experience to lead to modifications and improvements. Such an evolution is possible only with rules which are neither coercive nor deliberately imposed -- rules which, though observing them is regarded as merit and though they will be observed by the majority, can be broken by individuals who feel that they have strong enough reasons to brave the censure of their fellows. Unlike any deliberately imposed coercive rules, which can be change only discontinuously and for all at the same time, rules of this kind allow for gradual and experimental change. The existence of individuals and groups simultaneously observing partially different rules provides the opportunity for the selection of the more effective ones. 
F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (1960: 62-63) 

Trump Nation

#1:
The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials at a Florida airport, a family friend told the Courier-Journal.
Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, [both American citizens] were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini. 
Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"
#2 (Huffington Post):
Customs and Border Protection officers requested identity documents from passengers disembarking a domestic flight at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Wednesday. 
Passenger Kelley Amadei told New York’s local NBC News station that as Delta flight 1583 was taxiing to the gate around 8:30 p.m, an attendant told travelers to get their identification documents ready for review. 
Before passengers even stepped onto the jet bridge, they were met by two officers from CBP.... 
In a statement that New York Times reporter Eli Rosenberg posted on Twitter, CBP said it was assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in locating a person they believed may have been on the flight.
Cross-posted at The Libertarian Institute.

Is the Intel Complex Trying to Sabotage Trump?


One need not be a Trumpster to be concerned by the apparent campaign of the intelligence community (sic; does it have an HOA, golf course, and pool?) to block what may be Trump's wish for detente with Russia. See Gareth Porter's detailed dissection of the matter in "How 'New Cold Warriors' Cornered Trump." Teaser:
Many people who oppose Trump for other valid reasons have seized on the shaky Russian accusations because they represent the best possibility for ousting Trump from power. But ignoring the motives and the dishonesty behind the campaign of leaks has far-reaching political implications. Not only does it help to establish a precedent for US intelligence agencies to intervene in domestic politics, as happens in authoritarian regimes all over the world, it also strengthens the hand of the military and intelligence bureaucracies who are determined to maintain the New Cold War with Russia. 
Those war bureaucracies view the conflict with Russia as key to the continuation of higher levels of military spending and the more aggressive NATO policy in Europe that has already generated a gusher of arms sales that benefits the Pentagon and its self-dealing officials. 
Progressives in the anti-Trump movement are in danger of becoming an unwitting ally of those military and intelligence bureaucracies despite the fundamental conflict between their economic and political interests and the desires of people who care about peace, social justice and the environment.
Cross-posted at The Libertarian Institute.

Friday, February 24, 2017

TGIF: In Defense of Extreme Cosmopolitanism


Cosmopolitanism is under assault from across the political spectrum, both in the United States and abroad. Just yesterday President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, alt-right leader and self-described economic nationalist Steve Bannon, told the Conservative Political Action Conference that “the center core of what we believe [is] that we’re a nation with an economy, not an economy in some global marketplace with open borders, but we’re a nation with a culture and a reason for being,” This is a false alternative of course, but Bannon’s preference for nationalist tribalism is revealing.

The rejection of cosmopolitanism is bad for liberty, peace, and prosperity because they all go hand in hand.

Read the rest 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 10, 2017

TGIF: "Isolationist" Trump Rattles His Saber

A few libertarians and other principled opponents of the warfare state assured us we likely would sleep easier with Donald Trump, rather than any neoconservative or humanitarian interventionist, in the White House. How's that working out? Not so well. I'm hoarding melatonin and buying stock in Lunesta.

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 03, 2017

TGIF: Trump's Blueprint for More Government

Donald Trump remains blinded -- willfully or not I cannot say -- by his absurd narrative of America as an aggrieved nation. It's a narrative that will stimulate the growth, rather than the diminution, of government power.

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, February 01, 2017

Nationalism and Religion

Nationalism is religion -- or, to put it in a less-biased form, nationalism and religion are two members of the same family. Is there reason to prefer violence in the name of the former over violence in the name of the latter? (See William Cavanaugh's The Myth of Religion Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict.)