Sunday, March 11, 2007

Media Bias Against Hoppe?

Is there a media bias against "Old Right" issues like the right to discriminate in the Las Vegas Review Journal? Is it part of a new effort directed by the often criticized Southern Poverty Law Center to find hate groups somehow, somewhere to fight against? Libertarians, such as Thomas DiLorenzo (who is on top of their list), as well as the Mises Institute itself, often discuss matters such as inequality and anti-egalitarianism in the process of defining the meaning of liberty, and it is not unusual for this to occur. As Walter Williams, a libertarian economist and columnist explains:

Discrimination is simply the act of choice...Our lives are spent discriminating for or against one thing or another. In other words, choice requires discrimination. When we modify the term with race, sex, height, weight or age, we merely specify the choice criteria.

Imagine how... impossible, life would be if discrimination were outlawed. Imagine engaging in just about any activity where we couldn't discriminate by race, sex, height, weight, age, mannerisms, college selection, looks or ability; it would turn into a carnival.

I've sometimes asked students if they believe in equal opportunity in employment. Invariably, they answer yes. Then I ask them, when they graduate, whether they plan to give every employer an equal opportunity to hire them. Most often they answer no; they plan to discriminate against certain employers. Then I ask them, if they're not going to give every employer an equal opportunity to hire them, what's fair about requiring an employer to give them an equal opportunity to be hired?

Sometimes students will argue that certain forms of discrimination are OK but it's racial discrimination that's truly offensive.

That's when I confess my own history of racial discrimination. In the late 1950s, whilst selecting a lifelong mate, even though white, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and Japanese women might have been just as qualified as a mate, I gave them no chance whatsoever. It appears that most Americans act identically by racially discriminating in setting up marriage contracts.

According to the 1992 Census Bureau, only 2.2 percent of Americans are married to people other than their own race or ethnicity.

You say, "All right, Williams, discrimination in marriage doesn't have the impact on society that other forms of discrimination have."

You're wrong again. When there is assortive (non-random) mate selection, it heightens whatever group differences exist in the population. For instance, higher IQ individuals tend toward mates with high IQs. High-income people tend to mate with other high-income people.

It's the same with education. To the extent there is a racial correlation between these characteristics, racial discrimination in mate selection exaggerates the differences in the society's intelligence and income distribution. There would be greater equality if there weren't this kind of discrimination in mate selection.

In other words, if high-IQ people were forced to select low-IQ mates, high-income people forced to select low-income mates, and highly educated people forced to select lowly educated mates, there would be greater social equality. While there would be greater social equality, the divorce rate would soar since gross dissimilarities would make for conflict.

Common sense suggests that not all discrimination should be eliminated, so the question is, what kind of discrimination should be permitted? I'm guessing the answer depends on one's values for freedom of association, keeping in mind freedom of association implies freedom not to associate.

Lawrence Mower of the Review-Journal in his article today, "Researchers tied to hate groups get invitations" begins with:

An organization headed by a prominent University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor has invited four researchers with ties to hate groups to speak at a May conference in Turkey. [my emphasis]
and continues
"to express viewpoints that some civil rights organizations call "academic racism."" [again, my emphasis]
and concludes
"Anti-discrimination groups have criticized or condemned the speakers for their views on eugenics, or the study of genetic differences between the races." [my emphasis]
One would think from the hue and cry that peoples the world over were going to protest the conference. Actually, however, it is only one person that Mower contacted, Heidi Beirich, deputy director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, who has given him the desired answer to the speakers by lumping them with two nonmembers and non-speakers, Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, and Jean Phillippe Rushton, president of the Pioneer Fund, "are the movers and shakers ... in this world" of academic racism.

The conference itself, is the upcoming second annual Property and Freedom Society's Annual Conference in Turkey in May. Of the six different segments of the conference, only one focuses on anti-egalitarianism and inequality, "The Inequality of Man and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations," and, judging from the list of the other segments' topics, probably the least controversial or interesting. From what I can see of the speakers' c.v.'s, they are, save, perhaps for Yuri Maltsev, experts in understanding inequality. However, Maltsev's background as an international economist will, no doubt, provide him with invaluable insights.

After contacting the local ADL, an author of a book on "scientific racism" and an author of another book on eugenics, Mower is then convinced of the horror of that 1/6 of the program, effectively condemning the entire Conference as somehow racist and provided expected hints connecting all sorts of evils with Hoppe, including the dispute in 2005 between Hoppe and a student unable to understand time preference, mentioned numerous times in the article in an attempt to suggest that Hoppe was wrong in the dispute.

I still remember growing up in Richmond, Indiana as a kid and learning that the town just a ways down the road, German Town, had to change its name to Libertyville, because of the fear by the citizenry that they would not be thought sufficiently patriotic or American after the war. Not all germans (or Austrians) are Nazis, nor are libertarians or anti-egalitarians.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

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Monday, February 26, 2007

February 22, 1770--"...and a little child shall lead them.

March 1, 1770
My Dearest Sister Mary,

Tension here is rising. The Redcoats still remain here in Boston . King George III, a few weeks ago, repealed the Townshend Acts. Now business is getting back to normal. Hopefully, mother and father told you that I finished my apprenticeship last Christmas and am now working for the Boston Gazette and Country Journal. I do not know how you could not have known. Do you remember when I first left home to go?

It was hard work but I am happy that I completed it. I had the greatest teacher and his shop was just outside of Newport. He always told me things from his apprenticeship days; they were very helpful. I am now living with a elderly woman whom I help and in trade I may board with her. It was the best I could find. Usually printers live above the shop, but there was no room.

I have seen brother John around town, but I have not talked to him. Cousin Samuel has been very busy lately, organizing the funeral and all. His name, Samuel Adams, has been said a lot around town. Surely you have heard about that. Poor Christopher Seider, he was shot right in the head, and then again in the chest, an awful way to die. Ebenezer Richardson shot him when they were all protesting outside of his shop. I heard they were throwing rocks. One hit his wife, and killed her. As you might suspect he is a supporter of the Crown. There was a funeral for young Seider this past week, I watched it go by the shop, but I did not join though I wanted to.

This morning as I was walking to work, I heard the children taunting the Redcoats, saying things like, "Bloodyback” and “Lobsterback” Although I am against them being here, I dislike how they do this to them. One day the karma will come back to them. I will hate to see that day come.

I arrived to work fairly early today. I got right to work, got my types together, my composing stick, and worked on the article Thomas Johnson sent in about the latest happenings in England. I was halfway done when Benjamin, my manager, came in to tell me that I would have to work late until about 9 o`clock on the 5th of the March. Since I have just started I must always be the one who has to work the extra hours. This means I must walk home that night at that hour - joy.

I have worked a whole fourteen hours today so I must go rest. Good Night.

Your loving sister, Katherine Adams

March 6th,1770
My Dearest Sister Mary,

I am lucky to be alive. The British have fought back. They have killed five Bostonians. Crispus Attucks, a free black man was killed, the poor soul worked so hard to get to where he was. I witnessed the whole “massacre” as the Sons of Liberty have called it. I am as you maybe can tell, not happy.

I had to work extra, as you know, so we could finished this weeks’ publication. As I was walking home I saw, right outside the Customs House, a mob of people. I went closer and saw a British sentry being picked on by the townspeople. People were throwing sticks, snow, ice, rocks, and other objects toward him, There was a foot of snow on the ground and more was coming down so my vision was blurred.

The sentry, who was suddenly knocked down, called for help. Captain Preston, Matthew Kilroy, Hugh Montgomery, and six others arrived pushing through the crowd. I watched as they helped their fellow soldier up. I thought that this would be the end of this whole thing, but I was wrong.

The next thing I knew people were yelling “Fire” at the soldiers and then I heard the church bells ringing. A few moments later housewives and children came out with pails of water and snow. I wondered why they were ringing the bells. There was no fire at all, from what I could see. One word summed up everything happening, confusion. I could tell the soldiers even did not know what was going on. The crowd 'twas not giving up. Fire was still being yelled 'til there was a shot fired. I am not quite sure who it was, but I am thinking that it was Kilroy. He seemed to be angered by everything we colonists do.

The snow was now bloody and everyone was distraught, including me. There have been five people in all killed: Crispus Attucks, as I mentioned earlier; Samuel Gray, who worked at the rope walk; James Caldwell, who was a sailor on an American ship; Samuel Maverick,who was just a young boy at the mere age of seventeen and last but not least, Patrick Carr, a feather maker.

I am going to brother John Adam’s house tomorrow night after work, which by the way was awfully busy. I am tired from thinking about this, it angers me. Katherine Adams

March 13,1770
My Dearest Mary,

It has been a whole six days since I have written to you. I am just getting over a small cases of pneumonia. I have not been taking the best care of myself like I should be. I went to the town doctor, and he told me to drink lots of liquids to help my body recover. I should be back to printing soon.

I have much to tell you. It was just yesterday, that we printed the paper with the massacre story. I am sending it along in case you do not get the Boston Gazette in Newport. At work, I shared the story on my account to my colleagues. I told them in great detail. I guess working the late shift helped .. a little.

I have some news about our brother, John. When I arrived at his home he immediately began to tell me how he felt about the massacre. I learned something very interesting. He has agreed to represent the British soldiers in the trial that will be held along with Josiah Quincy. I was very surprised to hear this from him but he says he wants to show King George III that over here in the colonies everyone is treated equally and may receive a fair trial. I thought, even though I am a Patriot, that it was a very good reason, and I myself might have done the same. He said it would start sometime in October.

I suspect that the soldiers will not be charged with anything much, but I am sure that the prosecutors will have at least one convicted guilty. I wonder if King George has heard yet about what has happened here? I dare say that once the news is passed on to him he will have no idea what to do next. He has gotten himself into this mess, so he must find a way out. I doubt that is going to happen very soon.
Your Sister, Katherine Adams

Young Katherine Adams was certainly there at the center of events, as her cousin, Sam Adams, and his cohorts were waiting for the opening shot to begin a major public event demonstrating the horrors of British justice. Samuel Adams, with a talent for manipulating public opinion, had helped to inaugurate a systematic use of violence and intimidation by revolutionary committees and congresses bent on destroying the British political influence.

The ferment in the port towns like Boston and New York had taken its toll in the British military back in England, with the knowledge of widespread colonial smuggling and avoidance of any fiscal responsibility for the expenses that the Crown had in protecting the colonials from French and Indian predation. The port towns, in particular, were dangerous and violent, and words of revolution were beginning to be spoken there long before others were cognizant. With each action taken or reaction, the level of anger increased, as did the level of violence.

This suited Sam Adams to a "T" (pardon the pun). John Adams knew between fifty and a hundred pseudonyms that Sam Adams used. Even Sam couldn't recall how many he had used, or even referred to in his own broadsides. But it would not matter, "They served their purpose." [p. 27, The Grand Incendiary (NY: Dial, 1973) by Paul Lewis] Francis Bernard, a British Governor, was exasperated with him. "Every dip of his pen stung like a horned snake." [Samuel Adams' Revolution (NY: Harper & Row, 1976. p. 1) by Cass Canfield]. From the Stamp Act in 1765 onward, Sam Adams and his Sons of Liberty would manipulate events and public opinion, with an ever-increasing talent for mayhem. He managed the Stamp Act Riot of August 14, 1765 and was constantly watching for more. He organized parades, festivals and fireworks on the anniversary of the Stamp Act Riot.

Once the Townshend Acts passed compelling the colonists to pay duties on glass, lead, paper and tea (which was considered a very minor tax by the Crown and Parliament), Adams pressured American merchants into signing a pledge of non-importation. Eight did not and Adams wanted to make an example of one of them. On February 22, 1770, a mob (Adams was probably there, members of the Sons of Liberty were certainly there) gathered in the front of the store of Theophilus Lilly with a big wooden hand mounted on a pole pointing at the storefront accusingly.

The Seider/Richardson events could not have given Adams a better tool. It was a cold dreary winter day when Christopher Seider was murdered. Christopher Seider along with a dozen other school boys were among an angry mob in front of a building throwing rocks at the shop of a Loyalist merchant. Ebenezer Richardson, a rather unsavory Loyalist who had worked as a confidential informant to the Attorney General and Customs and friend of Lilly came along, and tried to defend the merchant but was hit in the head with a rock. Ebenezer went back to his house for his musket. From there he climbed up a two story building and aiming his musket into the mob began to fire at random. In doing that Ebenezer shot Christopher Seider. Christopher Seider died with two bullets inserted in him, one right above the heart and the other in the eye at approximately 9pm that evening. After Christopher was shot the angry mob dragged Ebenezer to jail. Christopher Seider's body was taken to Faneuil Hall.

A funeral procession of five thousand Bostonians took place four days later (February 26, 1770) for Christopher Seider. His casket, inscribed with "innocence itself is not safe", was carried from Faneuil Hall, past the Town House where the governor and council met, down to the liberty tree, and to the Granary Burying Ground. His body was laid to rest there. People left flowers as a tribute. Sam Adams called Christopher "the first martyr to American liberty". As for Ebenezer Richardson the judge found him “not guilty”, but was later tortured by local Patriots.

Christopher Seider's death united the citizens of Boston against the British. Within a few days, the British regiments were being constantly pelleted with snowballs filled with rocks, then home-made spears, then clubs. The agitation was constant, and increasing until there was no doubt of the mob's intention. Finally, The Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770 when the rioters charged the infantry line and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. A half native American and half african-American, Crispus Attucks, who led the rioters, knocked down one of the soldiers and grabbed his musket. The soldiers began firing, killing Attucks and three others, wounding six more (one died two weeks later). To this day, there is no evidence that they were ordered to fire.

From the unfortunate event of the inadvertent death of an eleven year old child, Sam Adams began the American Revolution.

Just a thought. (hat tip to J.L. Bell.)
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

WAR--Louis Nazzi (1884-1913)

Benjamin Tucker, writing in Dora Marsden's The New Freewoman (1913-19), said that "ON the death of Louis Nazzi at the age of twenty-eight, France has lost one of the most promising of her younger writers, and one whose promise had already resulted in a considerable performance. I shall venture to offer THE NEW FREEWOMAN a sample of his quality, though I do so With some foreboding, lest this offering also may appear, to the editorial eye, or ear, as mere "bombast and fustian. "Writing of armed peace and compulsory military service, he says:"

"I hate war, violently, with all my filial and fierce love of life. From the day when I understood the work of faith, ardour, and suffering that is summed up in the single word, life, I have refused my consent to war, which at school I was taught to venerate. When one thinks of the amount of goodwill, tenderness, devotion, fruitless effort, anxious and vigilant thought, toilsome deeds, and tiresome marches, requisite to the filling of a man's existence from the cradle to the grave, one cannot admit its criminal destruction in the name of an interest declared superior. No reason can triumph over it. Nothing can make me deny the individual; I am for him, against sanguinary czars and republics. Man is his own country, and the vastest of all. All that I know, feel, and am, my entire being, rises and refuses its complicity for the day of the next butchery. I need my arms and my brain, my heat and my thought, for my own, my work, and myself. My country is what I love and understand; it overruns four frontiers. If you wish me to kill, efface from my soul my dreams of happiness, efface the words of peace and love, efface everything. Drive from my vision all the images of earth, expel all light ! Burn my deepest recollections, my dearest associations, my reasons to hope and smile again ! Devastate my past, all that has been and all that means to be—the uncertain future that I have prepared by the painful labour of my loyal and trusting hands ! Break the embrace of the mother, the wife, and the child ! If you wish me to kill, kill first the man that is in me; perhaps then the beast will obey you."

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Saturday, February 10, 2007

George H. Smith

The philosopher, author and lecturer George H[amilton] Smith (b. 2/10/49) has specialized in two areas close to my own heart, freethought and freedom, and has been the author of numerous essays and books instrumental in both fields. Author of Atheism: The Case Against God, Atheism, Ayn Rand and Other Heresies, The Lysander Spooner Reader, The State (by Franz Oppenheimer) and more recently Why Atheism?, has completed a new book on liberty (I do not know the working title), in addition to his schedule of lecturing and debating. Known best for the logical clarity of his exposition, Smith is known for plumbing the depths of the most difficult subject in a manner which makes almost any topic surprisingly easy to understand, a feat unmatched by almost any other philosopher.

Smith, although noting certain positive elements within Christianity, authored the classic work criticising religion in general and Christianity in particular, Atheism: The Case Against God. There has been no other more influential freethought work in the last half century. His debates with theists of various stripes and lectures on freethought have been significant to both sides of the matter.

Smith became known as a leading independent libertarian intellectual since 1970 with a deep grasp of several schools of thought: Ayn Rand's epistemological and moral ideas, Murray Rothbard's anarchocapitalism, Nisbet's conservatism (through lectures by Nisbet while in Arizona) and even Robert LeFevre's antipolitical "freedom philosophy". Smith's "Rational Anarchism"

" is grounded in the belief that we are fully capable, through reason, of discerning the principles of justice; and that we are capable, through rational persuasion and voluntary agreement, of establishing whatever institutions are necessary for the preservation and enforcement of justice. It is precisely because no government can be established by means of reason and mutual consent that all Objectivists should reject that institution as unjust in both theory and practice."

Rational anarchism, like more recent efforts, has been a thoughtful integration of objectivism and free market anarchism, and forged the direction which much of libertarian thinking has progressed since he formulated his views, although not often credited for his accomplishments.

Smith is also known for his dry sense of humor and wry wit which often brings as many to his side of a conversation as his deep grasp of both theory and history. On a personal note, I've been a friend of George's since the early 1970's and can confirm this effect.
Happy Birthday George!

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bush Brings Back Body Bags!

Multiply the picture above by 166 times, and try to visualize it. Three rows of one thousand fine young American men and women who will never see their families. Three rows, well over a mile long, of possibilities, futures, children, businesses, of friendships gone, never to be. In each casket, the remains of one more comes home. They each deserve a handshake and a thanks from President Bush. I would hope that he opens each and every casket so as to view the consequences of his own actions. Bush should touch each one and hold their hands, if they have hands left; look them in the eyes, if there are any eyes. He should smell the corpse so as to never forget who they once were. Each of their families deserves a personal phone call from him and an heartfelt apology. Multiply the count by twenty, and the Iraqi losses begin to appear, although it may be far greater. No one knows the exact count.

Wilfred Owen, one of the "Lost Poets" of WWI, wrote:
On Seeing a Piece of Our Heavy Artillery Brought into Action

Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
Great Gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
And beat it down before its sins grow worse.
Spend our resentment, cannon, -- yea, disburse
Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.

Yet, for men's sakes whom thy vast malison
Must wither innocent of enmity,
Be not withdrawn, dark arm, thy spoilure done,
Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!

When Weapons of Mass Destruction are discussed, you should realize that heavy artillery, tanks, bombs of all sorts, and military airplanes are part of the WMD. What are any of these doing in Iraq? What are they doing in our military bases? Are we so afraid that we need the weaponry, the military bases throughout the world? Is fear truly our motive? Our WMDs cause more harm than they do good and should be scrapped.

What would the world look like without the WMDs of the United State of America? Certainly much more peaceable. We would no longer be able to threaten, cajole or scare other countries. Likewise, other countries would not need to continue the accelerated process of building up their own WMDs. Some may, of course, but without the WMDs in possession by the U.S.A., their own fear-mongering campaigns no longer have the world's largest stockpile of weapons to use in manipulating their own populace to fund their own little wars.

Would this end war for all time? No, and it probably will not end all wars currently in process. But we will no longer be responsible for making war. We will no longer be responsible for starting war. I'm sure that the old canard, “give peace a chance,” is rejected by those willing to start a war if a drop of oil falls onto the sand half-way around the world in some little country, but we have given war a chance. Let's try something different.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Online Stuff--Videos, Books, Periodicals, etc.

Regular at and longtime columnist for the Orange County Register, Alan Bock, has entered the world of blog. Good for him! His grasp of foreign policy is the sanest that I'm aware of.

Not only do I blog at Liberty & Power and my CLASSical Liberalism website, but I have two other websites dedicated to important libertarian figures: Spencer Heath and Charles T. Sprading. You may find informative material there unavailable elsewhere. I am in the process of adding a number of important material on each.

Google Books continues to amaze me. I just came across Albert Jay Nock and Francis Neilson's The Freeman for 9/15/1920-3/1921. Now, if they only get the rest of the weekly online! Nock's wonderful collection of commentaries, The Book of Journeyman (1930, 1967), is now available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, courtesy of the Mises Institute, as is his introduction to Our Enemy, The State, "Life, Liberty, and...", "The Criminality of the State", Jefferson, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man and his marvelous, On Doing the Right Thing and Other Essays. This is wonderful for all of you who are unfamiliar with Nock's writings. I have had all of these for many years and treasure the style, wisdom and utter brilliance of Nock at his prime. Now all of you get to enjoy it as well!

In addition, The United States Brewers' Association Yearbook for 1915 has a wonderful Convention Address (pp. 107-114) by Nock, as does the 1916 Yearbook with Prohibition in Kansas (pp. 85-98) and Prohibition and Civilization (pp. 99-104). I also located Nock's The Value to the Clergyman of Training in the Classics (pp. 171-179) in Latin and Greek in American Education: With Symposia on the Value of Humanistic Studies (1911) by Francis Willey Kelsey.

Actual Ethics (Cambridge U. Press, 2006)by James R. Otteson is a great treatment of ethics from the standpoint of classical liberalism.

The Bruno Leoni Institute is up and running, including mp3 files from a 1961 Mont Pèlerin Society conference of talks by Leoni and Friedrich A. von Hayek, Wilhelm Roepke, Ludwig von Mises, Luigi Einaudi, Otto von Habsburg, Salvador de Madariaga, Russell Kirk, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Daniel Villey, Felix Morley and many others (hat tip to Tom Palmer).

Always on the lookout for new sources of online research, there are a number of videos online of note:

The documentary, Anarchism in America (1981) is available now on the web. Murray Bookchin, Karl Hess, a rare clip of Emma Goldman, Mildred Loomis, the Dead Kennedys and others are in the film which discusses anarchist history, left anarchists and individualist anarchists.

Hat tip to Wendy McElroy on this one: The great documentary, Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists, is now on Google Video. It's a historical commentary on the Jewish Anarchist movement in New York City from the early 1900s through the mid-20th century. As Wendy says,

"My favorite anarchist historian Paul Avrich is the documentary's first commentator and he reappears throughout the presentation. I was particularly pleased to learn more about Freie Arbeiter Stimme, a radical periodical published in Yiddish, which associated with Benjamin Tucker's Liberty. What fun!"

Other finds:

Here are a half-dozen Milton Friedman discussions:

Marc Stevens - Adventures In Legal Land.

The Libertarian Alternative (run by the LP) has a nice collection of interviews. Mark Selzer is an accomplished interviewer and easy with the interviewees:

Alexander Korda's Things to Come based on the H.G. Wells socialist utopia is online. If you are not familiar with this, sit down and get ready to be surprised.

David Zieger's Sir No Sir!, a great anti-war film on the opposition within the ranks. Watch it with someone who was in the military, even if they are pro-war. It will bring back memories which an ex-soldier needs to remember.

First Run Features has all of their trailers online, including ones for Saccco & Vanzetti, and also includes the Human Rites Watch movies

Finally, Google now has a Patent Search engine, superior to the U.S. Patent office's one. I remember the weeks that I spent doing a patent search on all of Spencer Heath's patents at the Los Angeles Public Library in the 1970's. The patent room was all but hidden up a flight of tiny wooden stairs in a terribly uncomfortable little room. Now, all I have to do is turn on my computer and with a few clicks, I have instant access to all of the information I need.

On a personal note, this has not been a good year for me. My health as continued on a downward slope and am now wheelchair-bound. My beautiful 14 year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was killed in a hit and run (driver never identified) in October. And I thought it was hard enough when my son, James, was killed by a drunk driver four years ago on a Los Angeles freeway while he was on his way to his house. I thought the worst day of my life was the day when Elizabeth was killed. I was wrong. It's been every day since. Christmas and New Year's are pagan celebrations of the end of the old gods and the birth of new ones. Perhaps the new gods will smile down upon me and my family. It would be a welcome improvement.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Books for Holidays

Okay, you've taken off your overcoat and have sat down in front of the warm fireplace. Of course, your first thought is what do you want to read. Perhaps something deep enough to help you forget the cold chill in your bones while you dry off:

Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage (Cambridge U. Press, Vol I--2002, Vol. II--2005)
by Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner (editors). If there is one work that you want to have on hand about the history of Republicanism, this is it! It is comprehensive as one would expect with Quentin Skinner's involvement over many years in the evolution of this project. The details of the Anglo-European experiences in Republican theory and practice are fully laid out here by specialists in English, Dutch, French, Italian and Polish history as well as Jewish and aristotelian sources. It is a must read.

Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (PublicAffairs, 2007) by Brian Doherty. Okay, okay, this won't be out until February of next year, but you can pre-order. Based on original research and interviews with more than 100 key sources, Brian Doherty of Reason magazine traces the evolution of the movement through the life stories and historical events that altered the course of the libertarian movement from the New Deal through the culture wars of the 1960s to today's most divisive political issues.

The Constitutionalist Revolution: An Essay on the History of England, 1450-1642 (Cambridge U. Press, 2006) by Alan Cromartie is an examination of constitutional ideas during the crucial period from the mid-fifteenth century to the time of Charles I, showing how the emergence of grand claims for common law shaped England's cultural development.

George Mason, Forgotten Founder (U. of North Carolina Press, 2006) by Jeff Broadwater is a welcome addition to the literature on the “Founding Fathers”. One of the American Revolution's most important theoreticians, Mason helped to raise a militia and draft the influential Virginia Declaration of Rights as well as the state constitution. Mason's leadership at the Constitutional Convention shaped the U.S. Constitution, although he ultimately (albeit unsuccessfully) urged that Virginia refuse to endorse it. He believed that, absent a bill of rights, the proposed Constitution did not sufficiently safeguard minority rights, and he feared that the central, federal government it sought to establish would be too powerful and offer too much temptation to corruption. Broadwater also helps to resolve the issue of Mason's stand regarding slavery. Mason was an ardent opponent of slavery, regarding it, in Broadwater's words, "as a moral evil, debasing the souls of slave owners and storing up wrath against the entire nation for a final day of judgment." Mason would speak out strongly and repeatedly against slavery during debates at the Constitutional Convention and opposed the move to count slaves for purposes of determining representation.

The Tyrannicide Brief (Vintage Books, 2006) by Geoffrey Robertson is the first biography of John Cooke, Charles I's prosecutor during the English Civil War, and who was executed for his efforts. A defender of the Levellers, of common law rights and innovator in jurisprudence, it is time for this well-deserved biography.

The Sage of Sugar Hill: George S. Schuyler and the Harlem Renaissance (Yale U. Press, 2005) by Jeffrey Ferguson is a welcome contribution to our understanding of this black libertarian intellectual journalist and novelist.

A History of the French Anarchist Movement, 1917-1945 (Greenwood Press, 2002) by David Berry. Anarchists sought to clarify anarchist theory regarding the nature of 20th-century revolutions and to integrate anarchism more fully into the broader socialist and trade union movements. They organized large campaigns and their analyses of developments on the left and in the trade union movement were often more prescient than those of the socialists and communists.

The New Agrarian Mind: The Movement Toward Decentralist Thought in Twentieth-Century America (Transaction Publishers, 2004) by Allan Carlson. Ralph Borsodi, Louis Bromfield, Herbert Agar and "The Twelve Southerners" are all discussed in this work on the "New Agrarian" movment and the efforts toward decentralism from the early to mid-1900's. Many of these figures were central to the gradual evolution of libertarianism from the left to the right during this period.

The Rebuke of History: The Southern Agrarians and American Conservative Thought (U of N Carolina Press, 2000) by Paul V. Murphy. The Southern Agrarians were a group of literary theorists and historians who gathered at Vanderbilt University in the 1920s. Murphy follows the Agrarians and their thought into the middle part of the twentieth century, demonstrating how the arguments made by John Crowe Ransom, Alan Tate, Donald Davidson, et. al. in their famous collection of essays I'll Take My Stand contributed to the emergence of conservatism in the 1950s.

D.M. Bennett, The Truth Seeker (Prometheus Press, 2006) by Roderick Bradford. This biography of the embattled free speech advocate, D.M. Bennett, founder of the infamous journal, The Truth Seeker, and known as the "American Voltaire", is a real treat. If you are unfamiliar with the American freethought movement, his life will come as a complete surprise. His publications were censored, prohibited at newsstands, and denied access to the US mail. Bennett’s prominent role in the National Liberal League, affiliation with abolitionists, suffragists and the National Defense Association (forerunner of the ACLU) are also examined.

Community Associations: The Emergence and Acceptance of a Quiet Innovation in Housing (Greenwood Press, 2000) by Donald R. Stabile. While I have some trepidations about quasi-municipalities such as homeowner associations, this is an excellent examination of the amazing growth of this new sociopolitical phenomenon. These Community Associations (CAs) have increased in number from 500 in 1960 to 205,000 in 1998. This book explores the issues surrounding this housing innovation and provides a history of community associations and the process of trial and error in the design of CAs.

Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women's Equality (U of Illinois Press, 2003) by Joanne E. Passet includes some of the most up-to-date information on important feminist figures like Mary Gove Nichols, one of the leaders of individualism and the free love movement in antebellum America to the continuing effort to promote an acceptance of sexual freedom until the end of the 19th century. The connections to the spiritualist and abolitionist movements are examined as well.

Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Vol. I (Black Rose Books, 2004) by Robert Graham and Maurice Spira is a good left-anarchist overview with essays going back to an ancient Taoist text, "Neither Lord Nor Subject" up to 1939 (Vol. II will cover later texts). For those who are unfamiliar with anarchist thought, this is a good place to begin.

Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement (See Sharp Press, 2001) by Frank Fernandez and Charles Bufe. The Cuban libertarian movement was perhaps the most vibrant in all of Latin America. At the height of their influence in the 1920s, Cuba's anarchists dominated the unions, provided free nonreligious schools for poor children, provided meeting places for Cuba's working class, organized campesinos into unions and agricultural collectives, and published newspapers and magazines across the island. Later, they would take an active part in the resistance to the Machado, Batista, and Castro dictatorships.

Orgasms of History: 3000 Years of Spontaneous Insurrection (AK Press, 2002) by Ives Fremion and Guillaume Keynia. This is an introductory People's History (somewhat poorly translated from the French) of riots, uprisings, revolutions and social groups springing up seemingly from nowhere. Our standard histories tend to treat these as oddities, if treated at all. From the Cynics & Spartacus through the Levellers, Diggers & Ranters to the Revolution of the Carnation, the San Francisco Diggers, Red Guard of Shenwulian, Brethren of the Free Spirit, Guevara, the Provos & the Metropolitan Indians. Nearly 100 episodes of revolt and utopia which popped up without a plan or a leader from the ancient Greeks to the present.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism