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2 March 2011
March 2011 / Issue 06
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Revolutionary Reading By Daniel McCarthy The books you need to win the war of ideas
YAL had been busy on college campuses across the country
The Year of Youth: Project 2012
Campus Round-Up By Bonnie Kristian
12 Summer of Liberty
By Wesley Messamore
Get a degree in fighting the state —by interning with YAL
Meet your foe: the big-government campus Left
Where Statists Are Made By Ben Wetmore Concealed Carry—On Campus By Andrew W. Smith
The Second Amendment goes to college
25 Mind Your Language
How to talk about liberty —to any audience
By Vladimir Rudenko
How liberty activists can change foreign policy
Get Realist By Roy Antoun
27 The Secrets of Shot Selection
What Wayne Gretzky got wrong
By Jeff Fulcher
Radical Kirkpatrick Sale explains why smaller is more beautiful
Secession Brings People Together By John Payne Emperor Romney By Jack Hunter
30 Profiles in Liberty: Lawrence Reed
Ambassador of Freedom
By Trent Hill
No Apology: The Case for American Greatness by Mitt Romney
34 Colleges Need a Revolution By Matt Cockerill
by Louis Menand
The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and
Resistance in the American University
Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Know Thine Enemy By David Gordon
3 Young American Revolution
The Year of Youth: Project 2012
Roy M. Antoun Art Director
Matthew Holdridge Shane Helm, Anthony Rousseau W. James Antle III, Dylan Hales, George Hawley, Trent Hill, Jack Hunter, Bonnie Kristian, Jeremy Lott, Kelse Moen, John Payne
Young American Revolution is the official publication of Young Americans for Liberty (www.YALiberty. org). Subscriptions are $50 for one year (4 issues). Checks may be made out to Young Americans for Liberty and sent to PO Box 2751, Arlington, VA 22202. Young American Revolution accepts letters to the editor and freelance submissions. Letters should be between 50 and 300 words. Submissions should be between 700 and 2400 words. Letters and submissions may be edited for length and content. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 2751, Arlington, VA 22202. Young Americans for Liberty is the continuation of Students for Ron Paul (SFP). In less than 8 months, SFP established over 500 college and high school chapters in all 50 states and over 26,000 students joined the Ron Paul 2008 campaign. The mission of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is to train, educate, and mobilize youth activists committed to “winning on principle”. Our goal is to cast the leaders of tomorrow and reclaim the policies, candidates, and direction of our government. We welcome limited government conservatives, classical liberals, and libertarians who trust in the creed we set forth. Opinions expressed in Young American Revolution are not necessarily the views of Young Americans for Liberty.
Copyright 2011 Young Americans for Liberty
n 2010, Americans rejected the statism of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama—just as in 2008 and 2006, they rejected the statism of George W. Bush and the Republican Congress. Voters could not be more clear about their dissatisfaction with the choices before them, and the need for fresh ideas and new leaders fueled the Ron Paul revolution and the Tea Party movement. Now it’s your turn. The Year of Youth: Project 2012 is a groundbreaking idea, based on the power behind educating, organizing, and mobilizing young activists to run for local office and manage electoral campaigns. Young Americans for Liberty’s goal in this project is to identify thousands of young leaders willing to dedicate their lives to fighting for what they believe in— freedom, peace, and prosperity. If enough patriots rise up against Leviathan and direct their actions to the political process in 2012, we will witness real, historic change. For once the American people will have a real choice in their elections, not just a choice of evils. You can make this happen—and you must. Otherwise, the next generation will suffer the shackles of a broken and bankrupt government. Look at the future before you: The national debt alone is unsustainable. In the past four years, Bush and Obama—with help from Pelosi and Reid—have amassed more debt than the previous 43 presidents combined. That’s over 230 years of debt more than doubled in only four years. These politicians are stealing your future. They are also destroying your neighborhoods: Dozens of city and state governments face dramatic budget shortfalls this year, and they have no
path for recovery. This failure of government is mind-numbing. Yet who will bail them out? The answer is always you, the taxpayer. You will be responsible to pay for this radical growth in government. This is why Young Americans for Liberty is making a call to all who care deeply about their country and the direction in which it is heading. We must take our government back and downsize it—repeal regulations page by page, cut taxes to truly stimulate the economy, and slash spending at all levels. And that is just a start. The challenge before us is truly enormous, but with careful organization we can pull the country free from Washington, D.C.’s fatal grasp. This is a wake up call to the next generation: You are drowning in a sea of debt, your country is broke, and you are responsible for paying it off. Obama has been a giant disappointment—a triumph of cynicism and imperial liberalism. The “hope” and “change” that captured the youth in 2008 seems like a distant memory now, and as a result we are disenfranchised more than ever. Who will rise to the occasion to capture the hearts and minds of my generation? Don’t look to merely the leaders we already have. You must become the leaders of the future. Join YAL, organize on your campuses and in your communities, and make the Year of Youth a victory for America’s long-neglected ideal of liberty and self-government. -- Jeff Frazee Executive Director Young Americans for Liberty
4 March 2011
The books you need to win the war of ideas
f America no longer has the constitutional system the Framers envisioned, it is not because the people have freely chosen a more statist alternative. The changes for the worse that have come to American politics over the past century were only made possible by a great deal of miseducation—by malign neglect in our primary schools and institutions of higher learning of the studies that can preserve freedom. In place of curriculums that would give students the means to identify and resist propaganda, the American educational system, abetted by television and the news media, has taught citizens to conform to the demands of statism. Even campus rebels are unaware of how thoroughly their own ideas of battling “the system” have been molded by the system itself. If they knew, they would burn their Che Guevara shirts. There are many good professors, and even courses by mediocre professors will often feature great books. If you take serious classes, you will certainly hear about, if not actually read, the most important classic texts in politics and economics: Plato and Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, etc. The educational establishment has a statist bent, but an intelligent student can judge these works for himself. What is more, a student involved in the liberty movement will learn from his friends about many other classic works, such as F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and Albert Jay Nock’s Our Enemy, the State, that directly repudiate the philosophy of servility. Independent reading can fill many of the gaps in your education. But much of the indoctrination that is carried out in universities does not take the form of excluding good books from the syllabus—rather the statist lesson is taught by how the course is arranged. The educational establishment shapes the structure of knowledge in higher education in such a way as to put anti-statism at a disadvantage. There is thus a need for a systematic anti-statist alternative, one that can provide a foundation from which to ap-
proach the great works you encounter in class and in your self-directed studies. The liberty syllabus below is not intended as a substitute for independent reading, and it is far from being a comprehensive bibliography of works that liberty activists should know. Instead it is designed to give you some basic but highly effective tools for all of your other studies. The four units cover contemporary politics, history, economics, and a smattering of philosophy, as well as providing ideas about how to put the principles of liberty into action on your campus—to help you fulfill Young Americans for Liberty’s mission of “winning on principle.” These units can be covered at your own pace: reading one unit per semester is a good idea, but it is better to take as long as necessary to absorb an important work than to rush through it on an arbitrary schedule. Unit 1: Freedom 101 Ron Paul—The Revolution: A Manifesto Barry Goldwater—The Conscience of a Conservative Douglas Hyde—Dedication and Leadership Henry Hazlitt—Economics in One Lesson These four are introductory books that are also very good books. An activist who comes to college already grounded in the liberty philosophy may be tempted to skip them, but that would be a mistake. Ron Paul’s The Revolution is a concise and engaging look at how a return to freedom can redress the evils of war and bankruptcy that currently bedevil the nation. Even readers already familiar with Dr. Paul’s ideas will benefit from seeing his worldview brought into sharp focus on the written page. The Conscience of a Conservative is perhaps the only other “campaign book” that stands the test of time. Barry Goldwater had been very reluctant to run for president in 1960. But grassroots libertarian and conservative activists drafted him, and they convinced him to work with writer Brent Bozell to produce this book,
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whose opening chapters remain a brilliant exposition of the libertarian side of conservatism (or the conservative side of libertarianism). Be wary of Goldwater’s Cold War interventionist foreign policy, but aside from that, Conscience is not only a good book, but a book that can help communicate the liberty message to conservatives by reminding them of what they once stood for. Douglas Hyde had a remarkable life story: he was an influential Communist activist in Britain who grew disillusioned with totalitarian ideology and became a Roman Catholic. He distilled everything he had learned from the Communists about effective political organizing into Dedication and Leadership, in the hopes that the side of freedom could learn how activist-leaders are made. The book is no mere memoir or attack on Communism—it is an indispensable manual for creating and maintaining effective cadres, and Hyde’s work has lost none of its relevance since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Every student activist should read it. Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson is perhaps the best and most accessible crash-course on free-market economics ever published. It will open many doors to more advanced paths of study, and like the other volumes in this section, its clarity of reasoning will be helpful even to readers already well-versed in its subject matter. Each of these four books is a breeze, and covering all of them in a single semester should be feasible even for the busiest student. Get started on them right away—you will be glad you did. Four other works that are worth picking up during your first semester in college are The Politically Incorrect Guide to U.S. History, by Thomas E. Woods Jr.; The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, by Kevin Gutzman; and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal, both by Robert P. Murphy. Don’t be deceived by the cartoon pig on the covers: these volumes are brimming with real learning, and they provide useful correctives to the economic and political myths common in all too many classrooms. Unit 2: What They Don’t Teach You in School Felix Morley—Freedom and Federalism Gene Callahan—Economics for Real People Israel Kirzner—Ludwig von Mises Andrew Bacevich—American Empire Colleges and universities are not uniformly politically correct. But even professors who strive to be fair can omit important perspectives from their courses. The ideas of the Austrian School of economics, for example, only have a prominent place in the curriculums of a few universities. The books in unit 2 have been chosen to supply viewpoints that are missing from most college educations. Gene Callahan’s Economics for Real People is an exemplary introduction to Austrian economics, while Israel Kirzner’s Ludwig von Mises is a short intellectual biography of the most important Austrian economist of all. Taken together, these books will prepare you for a deeper study of the most radical school of free-market economics. Armed with what you learn here, you will be able to tackle Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State and ultimately Mises’s own magnum opus, Human Action. The best single volume on the decline of the American re-
public as the Founding Fathers envisioned it and the rise of an American empire in its place is Felix Morley’s Freedom and Federalism. Morley, a staunch individualist, was one of the original editors of the conservative journal Human Events, but he never embraced interventionism during the Cold War. Morley was one of the most principled and talented men ever to lift a pen in the service of liberty, and Freedom and Federalism spells out in pellucid prose how genuine federalism was displaced by the centralized power of Washington, D.C. Equally brilliant is Andrew Bacevich’s American Empire, which examines the economic and political engines that have driven America’s foreign policy—and led to deadly “blowback” in the form of terrorism. Bacevich criticizes the wars of Republicans and Democrats alike from a compelling perspective: he’s a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and veteran of the Persian Gulf War who has become one of the military-industrial complex’s staunchest critics. He’s an antiwar conservative whom hawks and liberals cannot dismiss. Unit 3: Extremism in Defense of Liberty Murray Rothbard—For a New Liberty George Carey, ed.—Freedom and Virtue Saul Alinsky—Rules for Radicals Daniel Flynn—A Conservative History of the American Left The first unit gives you a grounding in the basic ideas of liberty today. The second unit presents a theoretical and historical context for expanding your knowledge. Now you are ready to explore some radical ideas, beginning with the book that is the best introduction to radical libertarianism, Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty. Just how much government does a free society need—and how much can it endure? Rothbard offers the anarcho-capitalist’s answer. (For a New Liberty, and all of Rothbard’s books, are available as free downloads at www.mises.org, which is a vital resource for thousands of other pro-liberty works as well.) Freedom and Virtue, edited by Georgetown University professor of government George Carey, provides several other answers from conservatives and limited-government libertarians. This book will give you a feel for the disputes that have enlivened debate between traditionalists and libertarians on the Right. It will also show you how broad the philosophical range of anti-statism can be, and how much common ground conservatives like Robert Nisbet and Richard Weaver share with libertarians like Friedrich Hayek and even Rothbard. (If you have trouble finding a copy of Freedom and Virtue, you can substitute Frank Meyer’s In Defense of Freedom—or better yet, read both.) Karl Marx once wrote, “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Having pro-liberty ideas is a start, but it’s not enough—you must also act on them. The Left can teach conservatives and libertarians impressive techniques for putting ideas into action, and no book is more useful in this regard than Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Alinsky was the original “community organizer,” and he developed strategies to succeed against opponents with far more money and larger organizations. Friends of liberty today find themselves in just such an underdog position on most college campuses. Alinsky is badly misunderstood by many on the Right—he
6 March 2011
was no friend of capitalism, but he was not a communist or mega-statist, either. For a long time, conservatives and many libertarians have only understood the Left through caricature. A more accurate understanding of what the Left really is—and of the crucial distinction between the coercive “Force Left” and the relatively non-coercive “Freedom Left”—can be obtained from reading Daniel J. Flynn’s A Conservative History of the American Left. From his own perspective on the Right, Flynn gives a fair-minded and highly readable account of the Left’s evolution. There is an important minatory lesson for the Right in the tale of how the Force Left ultimately routed the Freedom Left. If you want to dig deeper into the history of the Left, and see it from the perspective of a progressive, try The Long Detour by James Weinstein. Weinstein was publisher of the leftwing magazine In These Times, and his book is brutally honest about how an infatuation with Soviet Communism subverted a genuinely American Left. As an addendum to the Rothbard and Carey readings, meanwhile, consider exploring The Irrepressible Rothbard, available from Mises.org. That collection includes many of Rothbard’s later writings, in which he emphasizes his affinities with cultural conservatives. Unit 4: Advanced Studies Hans-Hermann Hoppe—Democracy, The God That Failed Bertrand de Jouvenel—On Power Jacques Ellul—Propaganda Richard Weaver—Ideas Have Consequences Bibliographies in the books from the first three units will give you many ideas for further study. This fourth unit is intended to highlight works that you may otherwise miss: four advanced books that every student of freedom should tackle at some point during his or her college years. Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Democracy, The God That Failed was
published a decade ago, but it still represents the most comprehensive synthesis of Austrian economics and radical libertarian political theory. Hoppe argues for a “natural order” based on property rights and self-ownership, and he shows that democracy as a political system is inevitably corrosive of liberty. Monarchs at least think of their countries as their own property, and attempt to conserve them as such. Democracy encourages short-term thinking in rulers and the ruled alike, which leads to a steady decay of civilization. French political theorist Bertrand de Jouvenel, meanwhile, shows historically how attempts to minimize political power have actually led to its concentration—indeed to the creation of the modern all-encompassing State. But the intermediary institutions that stand between the individual and government—the groups and habits of civil society—can act as “counterweights,” Jouvenel argues, and preserve freedom in the face of encroaching power. Another Frenchman, the Christian anarchist Jacques Ellul, provides an insightful and deeply troubling account of systems of indoctrination and control in his book Propaganda. The phenomenon he describes is more than just the advertising of political ideas—it is the shaping of an individual’s and a society’s mental horizons. Propaganda is a difficult but vastly rewarding work. Finally, if the production of propaganda is about falsifying the world to serve political power, Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences, a famous book little read, provides a cure: Weaver is a metaphysical realist concerned to restore words and ideas to their true meanings—or at least to restore meaning to the idea of truth. Ideas Have Consequences diagnoses the evils of modern politics on a philosophical level, seeking ultimate explanations for how contemporary warfare has slipped all civilized restraints and what forces have reduced the citizens to political serfdom. The book is as much a work of prophecy as philosophy. Daniel McCarthy is editorial director of Young American Revolution.
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8 March 2011
YAL has been busy on college campuses across the country
am Spaiser and other members of the YAL chapter at Indiana University-Bloomington learned exactly what their college thought about free market economics – and it wasn’t pretty. Spaiser and his chapter had applied to the school’s Indiana Memorial Union Board Lectures Committee for funding to bring Mises Institute senior scholar Dr. Thomas E. Woods, Jr. to speak on campus. After a consult with the school’s economics department, however, the board returned a flat refusal, citing the blatantly false excuse that Woods – a graduate of Harvard and Columbia and a New York Times bestselling author – lacked “sufficient academic credibility.” The rejection was remarkable, particularly given the board’s past funding of a visit from presidential candidate John Edwards to the tune of $35,000, more than seven times what Woods had requested. As Spaiser noted, “It is clear that the Lectures Board rejected Woods based on philosophical differences, not his lack of credibility.” Woods himself commented, “If my academic credentials are in question, anyone can judge for themselves at TomWoods.com. But from their point of view I’m surely uncredentialed: unlike other speakers they might consider, I haven’t wrecked any economies.” The YAL chapter sprang into action, gaining the attention of the local press…and reconsideration from the lectures board. Perhaps not surprisingly, the reconsideration proved to be shortlived as the board once again rejected the group’s request, this time on the grounds that they were “too prepared” in their event planning. Fortunately, YAL supporters from the university’s alumni network, Campaign for Liberty, CampusReform.org, and other proliberty organizations rallied around the IU-Bloomington chapter and raised the funds necessary for the group to host Woods on campus this fall. As Spaiser put it, YAL at IU-B was “ready to take IU head on with Austrian Economics!” The September event was a wild success, with more than 250 people in attendance.
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The Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Youngstown State University in Ohio joined Ohioans for Concealed Carry, a local gun rights group, to protest a nearby town’s ban on gun sales within city limits. They picked out a location, did their research, found out they wouldn’t need a permit for their peaceful event, and began a publicity campaign. But all that planning appeared to be for naught. The local police station -- a strong supporter of the draconian gun sales law -- changed its position, deciding that an event which originally required no fee or permit would now cost the YAL chapter $2000. Cash-strapped town officials first maintained that the fee was for police protection for the event, but later admitted that if the rally had been to support the troops instead of the Second Amendment, no police protection – and thus no fee – would have been deemed necessary. Fortunately for the YAL chapter involved, this was clearly unconstitutional ideological discrimination – and the town backed down. First, the fee for the rally was lowered and graciously paid by Ohioans for Concealed Carry so the event could proceed as planned. And better yet, as a result of YAL’s activism, the town’s gun sales ban was repealed shortly thereafter.
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In 2010, the University of Washington at Seattle found itself affected by state-wide budget cuts. Some university workers lost their jobs as class sizes grew and student services declined. These changes, coupled with upcoming tuition hikes, left the school’s Socialist Student/Worker Coalition unhappy – and calling for a big government solution to the UW’s fiscal problems. Then the president of the campus’s YAL chapter, Mikayla Hall described what happened next: Rushing on my way to class yesterday, I took a short-cut through the Quad and found myself facing a small crowd of
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angry students. These students, members of the Socialist Student/Worker Coalition, gathered at various locations across campus and yelled in an all-day strike for progressive solutions to the state-wide budget cuts… Rather than decrease regulation and state involvement to promote competition and lower prices, they propose salary caps, a state income tax exclusively for wealthy Washingtonians, and a freeze on tuition. “In an effort to remind people that more government is not the solution,” Hall continued, “the local YAL chapter stepped up and hosted a counter-strike.” Their efforts paid off when the YAL members became the angle of the story many local news sources chose to highlight. Standing amid more than a hundred angry socialists, the YAL members’ message of free trade and limited government became the center of attention.
from the University of Virginia. Included in YAL’s activism guide were several flyer templates which chapters could download and customize with their own contact information. When the YAL chapter at UVA downloaded a template which depicted as the TSA mascot Pedobear, a well-known internet meme representing sexual deviance, to post around campus for their protest, they snapped a picture of one of their flyers and put it on Reddit. The image made it to the front page of this high-traffic website, garnering more than 400,000 views and over 400 comments! From there, it was picked up by the Huffington Post and was subsequently posted on several other sites. Congratulations again to the UVA chapter for this incredible viral success!
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To encourage involvement on Constitution Day 2010, YAL held an activism contest for all participating chapters. Aside from some awesome prizes – including and HD flipcam for the first place winners – these chapters took home bragging rights for the coming year. The competition was stiff, but the first, second, and third place chapters went above and beyond the call of duty in their celebration of our founding document: First Place: University of Wisconsin-Madison YAL UW-Madison had great success on Constitution Day 2010, passing out over 100 Constitutions and collected nearly 500 signatures of students who wanted to see Ron Paul come to Madison. They tabled at a campus hot spot and engaged in friendly conversation with passersby. The group collected information from about 40 potential recruits who expressed serious interest in joining YAL. Local news outlets ignored press releases and pictures which were sent out after the event, but a law professor at UW-Madison who runs a widely-read blog saw the event and very favorably covered it -- which elicited 130 comments from readers. It appears freedom is popular at UW-Madison. Second Place: University of Texas-San Antonio Young Americans for Liberty at UTSA created a 17-ft Constitution and displayed it in a populated area on campus. The chapter handed out over 200 Constitutions -- all they had -- and received six feet of signatures on the display, totaling more than 325 signatures. An additional 80 students signed up to learn more about YAL. The attention didn’t go unnoticed! KSAT 12, a San Antonio ABC-affiliate, picked up the story and hung around for over an hour at the event. The event was also covered by a local blog and Students for Liberty. Third Place: Washington State University After an evening of chalking and covering campus with flyers, YAL-WSU tabled all day for Constitution Day using the Operation Politically Homeless kit. Enticed by the colorful posters saying “student survey” and the full table display, nearly one hundred students came up to take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. All participants received pocket Constitutions and a flyer. Any students who landed in “libertarian,” “conservative,” or “centrist” on the quiz were asked to sign the signup sheet and received a copy of YAR. Group membership increased ten-fold! To read about other chapters’ events on Constitution Day 2010, visit www.YALiberty.org/constitutionday2010.
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Western Michigan University’s YAL chapter teamed up with a campus conservative group to take advantage of the warm May weather with a dunk tank and take a stand against government-run health care. Renting a bright blue and yellow tank, they set up shop in the middle of campus. Members of the two groups got into costume as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Congressman Bart Stupak, two key players in the passage of Obamacare. They then offered passing students the chance to dunk the “politicians” and their unfortunate support of government health care, not to mention a fun break from exams. The representation of Reid as Darth Vader in a tie played well with the crowd, and participating students received information about YAL and the problems with socialized medicine. YAL’s activism antics brought out the local CBS station and resulted in coverage in the student-run daily newspaper, the Western Herald.
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As anti-TSA sentiment swelled across the nation in response to the agency’s increasingly invasive and unconstitutional screening techniques, YAL sprung into action. With many students about to leave college for Thanksgiving break -- and perhaps fly home for the holiday -- the YAL national staff compiled an activism guide for students to protest the TSA, both on and off campus. The YAL chapter at Vanderbilt University, however, already had the right idea, tabling on their campus to raise awareness about the TSA’s concerning (and 100% ineffective) practices. After the activism guide was posted, other chapters began to stage their own protests. At UC-San Diego, for instance, the YAL chapter covered their campus with anti-TSA flyers and chalk messages. The Indiana University chapter created a video appealing to fellow citizens to stand up to the TSA’s abusive practices. Meanwhile, the Auburn University chapter created a clever display which enticed passing students to take information about the TSA. However, perhaps the most exciting TSA protest story comes
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Summer of Liberty
Get a degree in fighting the state—by interning with YAL
efore telling you exactly ugly—are a common sight, how the Young Americans and YAL interns get some for Liberty internship made this up-close interaction with the last summer the very best one best of them. Near the beginof my life, allow me to tell you ning of the summer, I had the a little about YAL: opportunity to attend a fundDuring Congressman Ron raiser for U.S. Senate hopeful Paul’s meteoric presidential Rand Paul. In addition to getbid in 2008, over 26,000 young ting a picture with Rand, I got Americans joined together to meet his father, Ron Paul, from over 500 college and high and to shake hands with Sen. school chapters to form StuJim Bunning. dents for Ron Paul. Inspired by True story—the next day, a robust, principled alternative I was mentioned (as a “longto the same old partisan bickhaired intern”) in Dave Weiering and talking points, they gel’s column at the Washington bravely banded together to Post, in a write-up he did about fight for their future, instead of the fundraiser. One day after YAL member dressed as Soviet guard just letting it happen to them. that, Weigel resigned over the After the campaign ended, publication of some heated Students for Ron Paul became comments he’d made on Young Americans for Liberty, dedicated to training, educating, “Journolist,” a private e-mail group for left-leaning journalists. and mobilizing youth activists on college campuses. In addition When you go to Washington, you get to observe things up close, to learning valuable lessons in political activism and campaigning, and kind of, sort of, peripherally be a part of them. It’s awesome. students in YAL have the opportunity to become the leaders of The internship itself is leaps and bounds ahead of other polititomorrow. Just one of the many opportunities YAL provides is cal internships. To begin with, the pay is phenomenal. Most politiits internship program, which accepts students each semester and cal internships for students pay peanuts—if they pay anything at during the summer. all. $700 a month is a pretty standard wage for a student internship I write this as my Summer Internship with YAL comes to a in Washington D.C., which in this town is not even enough to close, and I could not recommend the program more highly. My make rent. YAL pays its interns $1500 a month to work hard adtime with YAL has been the best, most fulfilling, most productive, vancing liberty while learning things that many people in politics and most enlightening summer I have ever had. pay money—sometimes a lot of money—to learn in professional Interns work at YAL’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, a workshops and seminars. short drive or subway ride to Washington D.C. with its many opAnother great perk is the YAL intern house. Instead of spendportunities for students interested in learning more about goving time and stress searching for an apartment in an unfamiliar ernment (and how to fight it) and making important connections city, YAL interns get to live together in a really cool internship with political groups and nonprofits. Every week, political groups house for just $800 a month. So to think of it another way: YAL like the Cato Institute and Reason throw happy-hour meetings in pays what most political internships do—$700 a month—while Washington’s many excellent bars and restaurants, where activists also providing free room and board in a house with other interns, can network while relaxing from the grind. In many ways, this is something that very few other political internships provide. the real D.C., where provocative conversations about policies beWhat’s a typical day like? We usually arrive at the office around ing dreamed up just down the road take place. 10 am. Seriously. It’s that awesome. Of course, we also leave much Of course, there are tourist attractions as well. Being in Washlater than some internships do—around 7 pm. So in total, we put ington for a season gives students a chance to see the U.S. Capitol, in our eight hours at the office with a lunch break, but it’s pushed Supreme Court, Smithsonian, and other unique sites of interest. back in the day to avoid the morning and afternoon rush and to Political leaders of all kinds—the good, the bad, and the accommodate our college-aged circadian rhythms.
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Regional Directors program to manage the We also work at home a lot off-the-clock organization’s explosive growth. because tyranny never sleeps, and neither While working, I’ve also had free access should liberty. When you’re living and workto all of the Leadership Institute’s seminars ing out here, what you do is not just a job and schools—an extremely valuable opporor internship anymore—it just becomes tunity for anyone interested in becoming a a lifestyle and a constant fight against the more effective political activist. People pay injustice of a corrupt establishment. I love big money to go to these training seminars what I do, so it’s not even work. It’s fun. And and literally travel from all over the world it’s critically important to building a lasting to attend them. I attended LI’s Future Canpolitical movement to reclaim our liberties. didate School, a program for anyone who YAL interns don’t just make coffee or might one day run for an elected office or fetch bagels. Executive Director Jeff Frazee help someone run for office. The school was is interested in cultivating our unique talents and interests to advance the cause. Much of attended by people from France, Paraguay, and China, not to mention those from all the job is very task-oriented and requires over the United States. someone with a lot of self-motivation and If you are driven, hard-working, selfinitiative—someone who knows what he or motivated, and dedicated to liberty, YAL’s she wants to do and to learn. internship could be one of the best exAs someone interested in media, I’ve periences of your life. After learning and had the opportunity to write a lot of opingrowing so much this Summer, building my ion editorials and make videos to spread our resume, and meeting so many important message and defend our principles. And as people, innumerable doors have opened to someone with experience in sales and an Wesley Messamore contemplates life me because of the internship. I could not interest in nonprofit development—that is, have found a better opportunity. raising funds for a political cause—I’ve had the chance to talk to YAL’s donors personally to raise money for Wesley Messamore is a recent graduate of Belmont University. sponsoring students to our national convention and launching our
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14 March 2011
Where StatiStS are Made
Meet your foe: the big-government campus Left
adicalized during the 1960s and Almost every major component the Vietnam war, college camof the “progressive” or “liberal” puses have long been considered a movement has a campus analogue. hotbed of left-wing popular disconThe Left keeps a keen eye to groomtent and statism. In truth, the philoing new recruits and developing new sophical underpinnings of campus leaders. The radicalism that the Left radicalism extend much farther back, once promoted has now been temand the strength of the Left’s intelpered into a dispassionate and cold lectual resources is greatly overstated. control over institutions they once Nevertheless, the college campus in fought against. Roger Kimball in The America remains a place where 18.4 Long March chronicles this transformillion students at any given time mation of higher education by ’60s are being pushed through a systemic radicals, their “long march” through process of indoctrination while also the institutions. Ben Folds also hilaribeing mentally assaulted by various ously sings about this in one of his SDS members demonstrate during a speech by outside groups, speakers, and entities more underappreciated songs, “The Governor Jeb Bush. that push bright young minds into Ascent of Stan,” where Stan has besubservience to the state. come the man he used to rail against; The Left has always been comfortable on campuses. Allan Stan has become the establishment. Bloom, in his remarkably honest 1987 book The Closing of the There are only a handful of truly universal and controversial American Mind, equates the role of religion and churches on the issues on most college campuses. The two main types of issues Right to the place of education and the universities on the Left— are those that are “natural student issues” and those that are relaand while churches are declining, the campuses are growing. The tively artificial student issues. Natural student issues are those that campuses have long been finely tuned to produce a very valuable play off of self-interest and are topics already being discussed on political commodity: lifestyle leftists who have office skills and campus even before ideological groups intervene. So, for instance, can percolate throughout society. Conservatism exists by virtue of issues of tuition, academics, and dorm life are natural student isbirths within a family protected through time by various institusues. A few more abstract political issues fit this bill, such as femitions. Leftists exist as a consequence of the educational institunism, sex and sexuality, race, and so on, because they are the kind tions that they control. The campus Left is where the professional of issues that everyone has strong intractable opinions about. Left gets its supporters, where it forms the malcontents who later The artificial issues are pretty easy to spot. They usually involve ruin freedom-loving people’s chances for a country bound to the an outside group that does work on a given topic coming to camConstitution. pus and trying to convince students that not only is their policy The challenge that the Left has managed to solve on campuses correct, but that their cause is a vitally important one to address. is how to create an organic movement that grows and evolves on Groups that cover natural student issues, by contrast, never have its own, without direction. This great radical experiment in social to convince a crowd as to why their cause is relevant. engineering is only sustainable when it grows bottom-up and not There are also two types of youth outreach that any cause will top-down. The Left makes much of the purported $35 million naturally lend itself to—the type used by groups that signal their spent annually by center-right groups on college campuses—as opinions to students in a very passive way by throwing informaif that compares to the billions in the budgets of colleges, or the tion out there hoping it gets read and makes an impact; and the many millions spent in youth outreach by the Left. In truth, $35 type that is much more effective and successful, though usually million figure is simply the combined budgets of the three most more costly, that involves sending someone to show up on camprominent college-oriented center-right groups, and much of pus in person and help local students take some sort of action. their programming is not directly aimed at students. For the most Many if not most student political groups—including conpart, the campus Left exists unchallenged, and through the docservative and libertarian organizations—love breaking the bank trinal control of speech and thought known as “political correctto bring in big speakers. But consider the effectiveness of that ness,” it manages to avoid any serious criticism on campus, even approach—on a given campus of 5,000 students, it would be from the conservative groups who are constantly demonized. impressive to have an event with a well-known speaker attended
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by 500 students, or 10 percent of campus. Most attendees will already be in agreement with the speaker. The speaker talks for 30 minutes and takes questions for another 30, a routine that the average undergraduate goes through 10 times a week with someone ridiculously more left wing than the most right-wing speaker. Only those other 10 times a week, the event is called a class, and the student gets credit for it. Big-budget speakers are no way to combat the campus Left. Changing minds and changing campuses is difficult. The tactics student groups employ are somewhat universal, but also require a great deal of modification to be most effective locally. The campus Left has honed its techniques masterfully. Looking at the financials, the nation’s 2,533 four-year colleges spend billions each year, with most of that money controlled by left-leaning administrators and faculty. As well, hundreds of millions are spent by college-oriented left-wing groups, which are almost too numerous to list. Funded by globalists like George Soros, left-wing groups have made a high priority of organizing the youth, especially in years—like 2004 and this year—when liberals seem to have poor chances at the ballot box. Many of these left-wing groups do very interesting work. “Young People For” takes 200 selected left-wing campus leaders and tries to develop and advance their individual skills. The “New Organizing Institute” focuses on training activists, many of whom are young and on campus, in workshops strategically targeted to electoral battleground states. The College Democrats set up chapters to provide a general and generic center-left foundation for other groups on campus. There’s quite a bit of small-scale organizing and efforts directed at campus students. This essay will focus on some of Roger Kimball the more important groups. The main center-left organization right now is certainly the Center for American Progress. With 127 staffers and a $29 million budget, the center is a well-funded and apparently well-managed think tank that has escaped the orbit of mediocrity that ensnares most institutions of its ilk. The neoconservative American Enterprise Institute is going through an identity crisis right now, and while the Heritage Foundation has been raising money handily, it lacks a serious campus outlet. Heritage’s comment on the Center for American Progress was that they “fuzzed the definition of a think tank”—but that’s because the CAP has many programs that are more effective than those of the typical Beltway policy outfit. Their main college outreach is done through the “Campus Progress” division of CAP. Campus Progress takes organizing seriously, and they’re a real force for statism to be reckoned with. Already they boast of having affiliated with 50 campus publications in 5 years. Compare that to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s 114 center-right papers after 30 years. What’s particularly interesting about Campus Progress is how inflexible they are when it comes to doctrine and liberal ortho-
doxy. Thus, even when it is clear that mandatory health-insurance schemes are not in students’ financial interest, Campus Progress insists on them anyway. The Left mandates that college students and recent grads pay for healthcare they don’t use, because this helps to subsidize baby boomers’ healthcare. This is certainly not the liberalism of liberty or even remotely consistent with the screaming soundbites of “my body my choice” that one can hear at any rally where abortion-rights activists show up. It isn’t even New Deal liberalism, since the baby boomers are much wealthier than the young people who are expected to pay for their healthcare. This is simply statism for the sake of statism. Campus Progress’s indifference to its audience’s actual interests plays out in other ways. CAP pushes energy policy to its students through an “Energy Action Coalition,” which sounds a lot more exciting than it sadly is. The “coalition” is a nice website with tools to start local groups and not much more. It has a snarky logo—a knockoff of the raising of the Iwo Jima flag featuring instead students raising a windmill. But wait—many environmentalists now consider wind not to be green enough either, because it’s too destructive of birds or simply unsustainable. Wind did have, for a brief period, political momentum spurred no doubt in part by the great monied interests lined up to profit from it, but the fad has since sputtered out. The internal divisions within the Left are going to slowly come out again and wreak havoc with serious coalition building. Campus Progress has a real problem balancing the advancement of the establishment political agenda of their party with what are natural student issues. To resolve this they have focused, smartly, on tuition, debt, and banks as organizing issues for students. But the reality of college financing makes this smart only on paper and frustrating in reality. Students are borrowing money they aren’t going to pay off for a long time; the minorities who typically compose the base of the Left are already given handsome discounts in the form of scholarships, remission, and other aid; and those students who pay full price are often the kind of rich kids who would rather party than worry about social concerns. It would be revealing if Campus Progress decided to approach college budgets, tuitions, and financing in a way that stressed institutional reductions of cost, the promotion of efficiencies, or a stable price system that could rid the education market of the needless complexities of aid, scholarships, and various bureaucratic subsidies—that is, if Campus Progress came out in favor of a price reduction for all, a sort of flat tax for tuition whose savings could simply be in the costs borne by bloated bureaucracies. But instead Campus Progress maligns the banks who lend money, credit card companies who offer “predatory lending,” and evil Republicans who won’t write unlimited checks for financial aid and ballooning Pell grants. Campus Progress’s doctrinal inflex-
16 March 2011
ibility makes them a caricature of left-wing thought. The College Democrats are also very active on campuses, though usually as a social club for center-left people. They have, for some reason, always been organizationally inferior to the College Republicans. Lately though, the CD’s have made a serious effort to overcome that second-string reputation and build their organization. Perhaps finding colleges already significantly leftwing and relatively anti-establishment, the CD’s have historically been quite complacent. Most College Democrat chapters, as with CR chapters, receive little or no overt direction from their national organization and function as a clearinghouse of generic political activity. They become the first stop for politically-minded freshman to get involved on campus, but they usually lack the intellectual enthusiasm to be a force on campus. The environmentalists have the problem of success—in that they have achieved politically what they have always sought. Their friends are in control of Congress and the presidency and advance their agenda, yet still this amorphous goal of “a cleaner environment” seems elusive. Is the environment suddenly cleaner now that the political regime has changed? Undeterred, environmentalists are usually pretty smart and savvy about “thinking globally and acting locally” and almost always have a cause of the month or year to advance on their college campus. Within the last year, oddly, that cause has been getting rid of trays in dining halls. Even though this costs more in the end, leads to unsanitary conditions, and is an extreme inconvenience to students and workers, it’s justified with the typical chicken-little reasoning that the world is running out of water, or rather, “clean” water. George Soros Much of the infrastructure for green statism in the colleges comes from Public Interest Research Groups, or PIRGs, which exist on about 100 campuses. PIRGs give students internships and course credits, but are often so stuck with the challenges of fundraising and running their organization that they have little time for campus activism. Many campuses are experimenting with largely feel-good or ornamental environmental measures, such as “going green” by putting up more recycling bins or planting a new garden. As the administrations of most colleges ostensibly agree with the green agenda and fall over themselves to advance and promote it, most of the environmental campus action becomes this relatively empty measures to look really green and add a bit of enviro-mortification to campus life, making students suffer a little bit for the sins of Exxon-Mobil. Unions, on the other hand, have been rolling out a few slick campaigns over the last decade or so, many of which aren’t directly seen as union activities. The most prominent efforts were the now-fizzled “Killer Coke” campaign—which alleged that Coca-
Cola was involved in violent anti-union efforts in Colombia—as well as the ubiquitous so-called “living wage” effort. Killer Coke became a way to rebrand a major corporation and give people a chance to reject what they grew up with, but the living wage actually promotes some seriously bad economic theory. Relying on the premise that the university budget is an endless pot of gold and that janitorial work is dirty and one should feel guilty about the workers who clean up students’ literal crap, this union scheme to subtly advance a minimum wage by more than doubling it and calling it a “living wage” causes widespread inefficiencies in the labor market. It’s fantastically popular with the student Left, because no serious campus activist wants to define their undergraduate years by saying Esmeralda ought to earn less. This effort has proved to be a great way to identify and train union organizers, as well as to recruit and unionize service employees, and to do so in a way that defies political rebuttal. Conservatives and libertarians who make the case against scheme—which in fact must be paid for by higher tuition and may result in overly expensive workers being fired rather than given raises—risk sounding heartless. As for issues of multiculturalism, they may seem very tempting for non-leftists to ignore because the debate is so charged and so loaded. The overpowering emotions involved can become stifling, even suffocating. But just because liberty-minded and center-right people want to ignore the topic doesn’t mean that the Left plays along, and in fact leftists are rarely content with anything but acquiescence to their demands. Those demands inherently pit races and cultures against one another, through the abuse of the political system to hand out money, preferences, and awards for nonacademic and non-meritorious reasons. If ever there was a clear case of the moral wrongs of coercive state power, it is here. One recent example of this high-stakes game of racial politics involved Loyola University New Orleans professor Walter Block, who gave “politically incorrect” answers while speaking at a college in Baltimore. Asked why blacks often are paid less than whites, he replied that by economic reasoning it must be because they were less productive—because if they were as productive as higher-paid workers, there would be tremendous market pressure for companies to hire more of them, thus bidding up their wages to parity. Though tenured, Block returned to a campus asking what the “limits” on academic freedom were. Evidently the only acceptable answer to the question he received was “racism,” and giving an economic explanation for why racism probably was not to blame must be even more racism. Fortunately, Block survived the campaign against him. Other similarly loaded and controversial topics on campus are
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those involving the feminists and women’s issues. The last decade has seen the development of “women’s centers” that provide a permanent presence for statist feminism on campus. The 800 women’s centers around the country represent a very left-wing and anti-male. Men in 2007-08 made up, on average, only 43 percent of college enrollments—they are statistically underrepresented. All evidence suggests that future growth in college enrollments will be among women as well. Experts claim they’re baffled as to why this trend has emerged, but the answer is obvious: official orthodoxy of feminism disincentivizes men from enrolling, staying, or surviving in higher education. This has not, however, stopped feminist groups from continuing to demand still more power. The pro-abortion/pro-choice movement has a covert pitch for organizing on college campuses—they usually prefer pretty generic “women’s issues” instead of being too open about their real goals. Even when overt, they set up groups to advance the ideas behind “choice” rather than working to increase abortions. There’s definitely an aspect of hardened social promotion, as evidenced by the poorly considered “I had an abortion” T-shirt marketed primarily to college women for the past five years, combined with the “I’m not sorry” day on campuses. These groups typically call themselves “Vox” or “Students for Choice” on campus. There are, so far as Planned Parenthood claims, 192 such youth and college groups. This is thankfully less than half of the 492 groups claimed by Students for Life of America as pro-life campus organizations around the country. But most university health plans cover abortion: the political battle here is mostly won by the pro-choicers, and the costs of their policies are well hidden within
university budgets and healthcare premiums that mask the cost of compliance. The abortion battle, as it plays out on campus, usually centers around the display of graphic images of aborted children rather than the fundamental policy questions relating to the university. The sheer scale of the campus Left’s power does much to discourage campus conservatives and libertarians. This discouragement does not mean that non-leftists do not take action, but all too often it means that they act only in ineffective ways, preferring to focus on national policies or theoretical questions that are not “natural student issues.” Yet anti-statists have a program that best serves students’ natural interests—a program that offers more jobs upon graduation, better long-term prospects (for families as well as businesses), and lower costs and greater freedom on campuses right now. People want change, as they apparently do every four years, but only the Right and especially the libertarian Right, understands what real change can look like. On all the issues that the Left organizes upon, the center-right has real answers that would make positive change in the local area. The challenge is getting through people’s general boredom with economics and applying its principles to these largely emotional problems. Well-focused libertarian activists advancing freedom on campus can accomplish amazing results and change the world, if they give the campus Left the resolute and definitive answer they deserve. Campus statists nationwide depend on our silence. Ben Wetmore is a graduate of American University.
18 March 2011
19 Young American Revolution
Concealed Carry—on Campus
The Second Amendment goes to college
Andrew W. Smith
he Constitution makes no provision for gun control. On the contrary, it guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms against any enemy foreign or domestic. George Washington said it best when he said, “A free people ought to be armed.” But does the right to carry arms extend to college campuses? Legislation pending in Texas would recognize that it does. The bill faces stiff opposition from university bureaucrats and guncontrollers—but there is already a responsible firearms culture on at least one state campus. Texas A&M University is quite exceptional in its handling of this natural and constitutional right. While the school administration and the state legislature contentedly hold fast to their fallacious, unconstitutional gun-control principles, there is a cultural movement afoot among students to resist this the notion that the state is our sole protector. Around the country, federal, state, and local governments are very hostile toward gun rights on college campuses. Regrettably, A&M is not much different in this regard. Here we are not allowed to have guns in our dorms or in any other official school buildings. A&M’s campus policies are not much different from those of most colleges across the nation. We have not learned the lessons we should have learned from Columbine, Virginia Tech, and the myriad of other rampages that could have been stopped by armed citizens. But officialdom’s fear of guns makes little sense given the culture of College Station, Texas. College Station sits on Highway 6 between Houston and Waco. It’s a southern town with a very southern culture. One thing I learned very quickly when I moved here was that it is what I like to call “gun heaven.” On the main road that leads to A&M’s entrance there are at least five different gun stores with the best quality firearms money can buy. These stores sell everything from the most basic of six shooters to “assault rifles,” “combat shotguns,” and “high-capacity handguns.” These are the sorts of stores that would make the average guncontrol fanatic run for his life. The dichotomy that exists between campus policy and campus culture defies the imagination.
Guns are not just part of the culture beyond campus. Texas A&M also has some very successful sports shooting teams. Our 4-H shooting teams are some of the best in the nation. Students from all over Texas come to A&M on 4-H scholarships to compete in national competitions against students from all over the country. Not only do they compete, but they tend to win—a lot. Texas as a state has actually won nationals ten times in a row, with several Aggies competing on the Texas team. As well as campus competitive teams, Texas A&M has a justfor-fun shotgun club. Members go shooting at the local range and learn about gun safety and proper shooting technique. While guns are first and foremost for the protection of our rights and liberties, they also can be quite a bit of fun: I personally enjoy going out on the weekends and shooting some trap and skeet. There is a lot more to “gun culture” than what the news media and popular culture let on. Aggieland also has the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. The Corps is the single largest non-academy ROTC program in the country. Here students learn a basic honor code, military discipline, and a variety of skills. The Corps is the backbone of the military traditions the school was founded upon. This program does not require enlistment in the armed forces, yet still offers military-grade training in the usage and operation of standardissue combat weapons. This particular organization even provides an escort service for students who need to go across campus alone after dark. Yet even these dedicated keepers of tradition are disarmed by government regulations. The Texas Legislature, in light of increasing campus violence across the nation, has begun to take action. Texas State Senator Wentworth, from San Antonio, put forward Senate Bill 1164, which would allow citizens who have Concealed Handgun Licenses to carry their concealed weapons on campus and, more importantly, in public buildings. The bill, which received staunch support from the Texas State Rifle Association, passed the Senate but has been tabled in the House. It has been the most successful of any campus-carry legislation so far across the country. Unfortunately, since it reached the House it has become bogged down
20 March 2011
in the swamp of state politics. When the bill came out, Jess Fields and the Young Americans for Liberty in Texas A&M chose to do their part to educate about it. Fields was elected to the Student Senate and presented a referendum to the Texas A&M body. The result was clear. Aggies, who turned out in droves, wanted the right to keep and bear arms on campus. At a time when around a hundred students protested the bill on the steps of the state Capitol, an overwhelming number of Fighting Texas Aggies voted in accordance with the Constitution and expressed their support for extending Second Amendment rights to campus. Times are changing. I believe that Texas A&M, and the rest of the country are at a turning point. College students, working adults, and American citizens all across the country have a choice to make. That choice is freedom or the illusion of security. As Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I for one, have hope. I believe that the freedom-loving atmosphere exhibited on the Texas A&M campus and across the Lone Star State will encourage Americans to not surrender this quintessential right fought for so hard by our Founding Fathers. Indeed, just as our Founders fought for this right, it is our duty to fight the educational battle for our liberties by spreading the message of freedom and the Constitution on campuses across the country. No Revolution can survive without a tireless group of people continually struggling and fighting against the statist status quo. Drew Smith is a student at Texas A&M University.
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the Original tea Partier
Paul Revere finally gets his due
oel Miller is a vice president at John Kerry to Revere because, she said, Thomas Nelson who oversees the he “has been waking up America.” Sapublisher’s nonfiction line (full disclolon.com even invoked him for a story sure: that includes my new book Wilon depleted petroleum reserves: “Toliam F. Buckley). He had written books day’s Paul Reveres of ‘peak oil’ aren’t about the drug war (Bad Trip) and overwaiting for Washington to save us from weening government (Size Matters). For apocalypse.” Worse, the headline (the his third book, he decided to go in a oil is going, the oil is going!) tied him to different but—he argues—still related Chicken Little, a peculiar humiliation. direction by giving readers a lively hisIn many ways, the man embodied entorical biography of the famous Bostrepreneurialism and was a commercial ton goldsmith and tea partier Paul Revisionary, but we only remember him vere—The Revolutionary Paul Revere. as a trope. I wanted to fix that. Revere is best remembered for his ride, memorialized by a Henry WadRevere’s profession is listed as sworth Longfellow in a poem that ap“goldsmith,” but that doesn’t come peared in The Atlantic in 1861. It began, close to describing what he pro“Listen my children and you shall hear duced over his lifetime, right? / Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere” Goldsmith was the proper term and told the lightly fictionalized tale of for a smith who worked in fine metals, Revere’s ride (along with several other Portrait of Paul Revere by John Singleton patriots) to warn the citizens of Masusually silver and gold—usually more sachusetts that British reinforcements of the former than the latter. They also were on the way to put down an incipient rebellion. worked with copper and other metals. The output of his shop Revere was also an important player in several other moments included everything from spoons to platters to goblets to teapots in the early history of the new nation. Yet while some foundto—and I’m not making this up—a chain for a guy’s pet squirers have gotten the full-length biographical treatment in recent rel. But Revere wasn’t content with that. He also engraved copper years, Revere’s life had languished. Miller looked to fill that gap. plate for printing, creating political cartoons for local publications He aimed to retell Revere’s life with an eye on some of the controlike the Boston Gazette and the Massachusetts Spy. He worked as a versies of today. I corresponded with him recently about bailouts, dentist and a coroner, built a gunpowder mill during the Revolutax resistance, and how his subject “embodied the new order.” tion, cast cannon and bells, and revolutionized the way copper was utilized in the fledgling United States. Robert Fulton, for example, You’ve written books about the drug war and the size of government. Why did you decide to write a biography of got copper sheets for his early steam engines from Paul Revere. Paul Revere? When I was working on the book, Malcolm Gladwell published Outliers and I remember thinking that Revere was a great exThere were at least a couple reasons. The first is that I knew a ample of his 10,000-hour rule. When you look at Revere’s career, bit of the Revere story and saw very little in the market about him. the more metallurgic knowledge he accumulated over the years George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas the bigger creative and entrepreneurial leaps he was able to make. Jefferson, Ben Franklin—there’s enough out there on these guys He went from a simple shop-bound artisan to one of America’s to collapse a bookcase. Just seemed like a good idea to get Revere first industrialists. into the mix. There’s a set-the-record-straight reason as well. Revere’s life is When he was fifteen, Revere’s father beat him for going remembered for his famous ride, and because of that his name to the church of the radical pastor Jonathan Mayhew. Some has been devalued to the point it serves as a mere synonym for people have suggested that this was because of Mayhew’s Bringer of Alarm. In both 2002 and 2006, for instance, U.S. conpolitics. What’s your view? gressmen introduced whistleblower legislation named after him. During the 2004 presidential race, Michigan’s governor compared Mayhew’s politics can smack people as pretty radical. When
22 March 2011
Paul was 15, for instance—around the time of the infamous thumping—Mayhew preached a sermon on the right of civil resistance, arguing against the divine right of kings and defending the beheading of Charles I. But this isn’t as radical as it a might seem. Mayhew was speaking from what was by then a long tradition of civil resistance, primarily from the Calvinists. While John Calvin himself opposed rebellion, his Huguenot heirs in France penned treatises defending it: François Hotman, Theodore Beza, and Phillipe du Plessis-Mornay and his famous Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos. Ditto for Calvin’s Puritan heirs like George Buchanan, Samuel Rutherford, and John Ponet. These writers shaped Puritan and Huguenot ideas about civil power and rights and were hardly radical to those standing in their stream. John Adams spoke glowingly of them. “The original plantation of our country was occasioned, her continual growth has been promoted, and her present liberties have been established by these generous theories,” he wrote, specifically referring to Ponet and the Vindiciae. All this matters because Paul’s family was Calvinist. His dad was a Huguenot refugee from France and married into a Puritan family in Boston. Mayhew’s politics wouldn’t have been radical to him at all, and preachers all over Boston echoed Mayhew’s political sentiments. The problem for Revere’s dad was the rest of Mayhew’s theology. Mayhew was a winsome, exciting preacher— and also a heretic. He denied some basic Christian teachings, such as the Trinity. From my reading, Paul got the beating for lending ear to a heretic. Mayhew’s politics were actually pretty orthodox for their time Paul Revere’s ride. and place, which was one of the reasons Boston so quickly fell into their resistance against England. How important was Mayhew to the resistance of Bostonians to the British government? I think very important—but not by himself. In Paul’s day, you learned about politics from the papers, the pubs, and the pulpits. Pastors like Mayhew were key voices in their communities. And they used their pulpits to inveigh against unjust laws, arbitrary rule, burdensome taxation, all the stuff that formed the list of grievances against Britain. And that lent the resistance a kind of divine approval that no doubt justified resistance while it also empowered it. I highlighted Mayhew’s role in the narrative because of his proximity to Paul, but there were dozens more men of the
cloth that opposed the imperial government as well. How common was smuggling in the British colonies? How common is going to the grocery story today? In the papers of Massachusetts’s royal governor Thomas Hutchinson I found a report from 1676—a hundred years before Independence—in which a crown official complained about the Bay Colony’s total disregard of England’s trade laws. I paid the most attention to Massachusetts in my research, but it was true for other colonies as well. The trade laws were restrictive and designed to channel as much business as possible back to Britain and prevent trade with foreign powers, particularly France and Holland. But the colonists ignored the rules from the start. When the Crown finally cracked down on smuggling, there was more than a hundred-year tradition in the practice. Try stopping that. And it’s not just like ruffians were doing it. The reason John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence with such gusto was that just a few years prior, the Crown had seized one of his ships, the Liberty. He learned all about smuggling from his uncle Thomas Hancock, Boston’s leading merchant. It was a widespread practice and seen by most as a legitimate response to excessive taxes and regulations. What were “writs of assistance”? What role did they play in inflaming Bostonian passions? Writs of assistance were one of the early crackdown measures used to combat smugglers. They were search warrants that allowed customs men vast and arbitrary powers. They ran directly afoul to the deep-seated legal principle that a man’s home is his castle. Because a man’s privacy could be violated whenever the authorities chose to do so, the colonists put up a vigorous fight against the writs. They failed—and their legality was a constant sore spot for patriots. I quote from a letter by royal governor Francis Bernard that shows the Stamp Act riots that came several years later were fueled by the people’s ongoing resentment to the writs. Several of the conflicts of Revere’s lifetime seem remarkably similarly to issues that we are still hashing out today. For instance, how was the Tea Act like the auto bailout? The link to taxes and regulation are easy to see, but I was really struck by the auto bailouts. The British East India Company
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was in dreadful disorder and in hock to the government for over a million pounds. So Parliament gave them a bailout package that sounds eerily similar to the deals given the automotive and financial sectors. They extended a loan to cover the existing debt and also extended their reach into the corporate governance of the company. They then turned around and made decisions with significant tax implications and pointedly ignored the people on whom the burden would fall. I remember flipping between the newspaper and the history books and saying, “This is the same story.” About 20 years ago, there was a book titled I Love Paul Revere Whether He Rode or Not. Did he ride, or not? He definitely rode—and it’s a pretty adventurous story. Spies and subterfuge, rowing a boat under the bow of a British battleship, narrow escapes on horseback. He just didn’t get as far as some might think. He made it to Lexington but was captured by redcoats before he could get to Concord. He was set free when the soldiers realized that they were riding into a swarm of Revere’s compatriots, all of them armed and ready for trouble. What surprised you most about Revere’s story? Penobscot. Paul Revere won fame for his ride across the New England countryside. But his darkest period came later when he was court-martialed for his part in America’s greatest naval disaster—the route of the fleet at Penobscot, Maine. Revere was responsible for the artillery, and the entire expedition was a botch from the word go. The story has all the elements—disaster, slander, revenge. This episode in his life came entirely out of the blue
for me. What role did Revere play in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution? The story goes that Sam Adams was basically on the fence about it. Don’t forget the Constitution expanded the powers of the central government and many patriot leaders, Patrick Henry for instance, were opposed to it. Revere backed the new plan and rallied a slew of fellow artisans to sign a petition in favor of the charter. Revere put the petition under his old friend’s nose, and Adams decided to sign off on the Constitution. The working title for your book was Paul Revere: The New Man in the New World, and an epigraph tells us that Revere “embodied the new order.” What was new about Revere? The class ladder in America was as short as it was rickety, and a man like Revere could start out life the son of a poor French immigrant and end up wealthy, well-esteemed by neighbors high and low, as well as having lived a life of honor and worth. That sort of social and economic advance was virtually impossible in Europe. Not so in America—and I thought that Revere embodied that change. The book starts with the quote from John Winthrop that England has grown weary of its inhabitants. America and its people like Revere were the counterpoint to that—fresh, exciting, and full of possibilities. Jeremy Lott’s most recent book is William F. Buckley, part of Thomas Nelson’s Christian Encounters series.
24 March 2011
Mind YOur language
How to talk about liberty—to any audience
fter decades of being utterly ignored, libertarian turns of phrase now resonate in the hearts of ordinary Americans and even in the minds of certain honest intellectuals. Thanks to Ron Paul and his revolution, we no longer represent the fringe. Our ideas are now viable challengers to the false promises of sugarcoated tyranny. We have an opening to win the American people back to the side of freedom once again. But our main problem in the marketplace of ideas is rhetoric. Statists of all sorts have taken the English language and turned it inside out to fit their agendas. “Liberal” now means statist. Being “for progress” is definitely statist. “Noninterventionism” is now “isolationism.” “Nullification” is, of course, a racist term. One would think the name “John Bolton” cannot be correctly used in the same sentence as “Defender of the Constitution”—at least without the word “not”—but Republican statists have done that too. To reach people who have been confused by decades of socialdemocratic rhetoric, we must be willing to suspend our purist terminology and speak the language of ordinary Americans, no matter how propaganda-addled we believe them to be. Are we willing to be pragmatic in our choice of words and couch our arguments in terms our various potential audiences will be willing to accept? Take the War on Drugs as an example. When talking to conservatives, don’t rely on civil liberties, racism, and Mexico’s troubles to make your case. Talk about the horrifying spending involved, the violent criminals on parole because of prison overcrowding— and don’t forget to mention the 10th Amendment. With arguments like these, you can show that being opposed to the drug war does not mean being soft on crime. When talking to liberals, however, reverse all of this. Forget the Constitution and fiscal concerns. Focus on the black communities destroyed by these unfair policies, the effects of our drug war on other countries—and don’t forget to mention civil liberties and tolerance of alternative ways of life. How about the Federal Reserve? When talking to conservatives, astound your audience by pointing out that no budgetary spending rivals the irresponsible money-printing villainy of our unconstitutional central bank. Point out that there is a hidden inflation tax on all savings, a tax that should not exist at all. Outrage the victims of government theft with facts about the Fed’s international bailout schemes and zero genuine accountability to our elected government.
On the other hand, help liberals discover where the money for all these endless wars and covert interventions comes from. Explain where all the really big money is and how it got there. Expose the machine that is our empire. In the process, try to illustrate to them the folly of Keynesian economics. With a college audience, we can take advantage of the diverse benefits of the libertarian philosophy. We have responsibility for the ambitious business students along with peace and love for the hippies. We can very nearly satisfy pacifists and even pacify environmentalists. And we have proven, age-old tools for attracting traditionalists and social conservatives. With Ron Paul behind us, we can even cure the apathetic. Then there are plenty of ways to solve particular problems we encounter in making our arguments. For example, an accusation of conservatism by a liberal can be countered with the idea that libertarians have more in common with the extreme Left than with the establishment Right. An accusation of liberalism by a conservative can be countered with Reagan’s famous quote: “the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” If we speak to a thoroughly mixed audience, we can always do what Ron Paul does: use as many common-sense common denominators as possible—fiscal sanity, peace and free trade, individual liberty, etc. The drawback is that we cannot use all of our techniques to convert the true believers of the various statist ideologies, but we can still convince a few open-minded listeners. Remember that the choice between liberal and conservative policitians today is ultimately an illusion. Liberty is the real alternative. Being able to compare the two parties and pointing out their absurd similarities, including an unspoken consensus on everything from war to deficit spending to wiretapping, is an enormous asset to us. Yet another approach is realigning American politics along libertarian vs. communitarian lines instead of conventional liberal vs. conservative ones. We have many options in presenting our arguments. Most of us are good enough to make a difference if we put in the work. Liberty is once again an idea whose time has come. We have done enough sulking in the corners of our institutions and in the incredulous circles of our close friends. We must capitalize on the fact that pretty much no one likes the government right now. Our opportunity lies in the very values this country was founded upon. Let us go out there and change things. Vladimir Rudenko is a graduate student at Christendom College.
25 Young American Revolution
26 March 2011
the SecretS Of ShOt SelectiOn
What Wayne Gretzky got wrong
reedom activists have a serious problem. Too often we approach our outreach efforts as door-to-door salesmen or telemarketers. We play the numbers game—the more people we talk to, the better the chance that one of them joins our cause. But our numbers need to be better. To power the liberty movement, we need to identify, recruit, and create a huge number of new activists. And more often than not, our outreach efforts come up short. Person after person walks away, rejecting our appeals and marginalizing our anti-statist arguments. Our libraries of historic, economic, and philosophic data aren’t enough to win that many converts. When the Numbers Game Strategy fails, the problem isn’t boldness. The liberty movement has no shortage of passionate people who care enough to take our message to the people. The problem is shot selection. Wayne Gretzky is once supposed to have said, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” With all due respect to the Great One, this isn’t quite right. I’m positive you miss all those shots you don’t take, but your accuracy ratio will be just as bad for all those blindfolded, behind-the-back, circus shots you do. The key to winning isn’t taking the most shots. It’s identifying the highest-percentage opportunities and converting them into points. A winning movement finds the most effective ways to reach out to potential supporters and converts them into committed activists. Unfortunately, constitutionalists so often approach their outreach like the Harlem Globetrotters. Trying to win over the public solely on esoteric issues like decriminalizing drugs or ending the Federal Reserve is like trying to make a half-court shot with your eyes closed. While we might find the intricacies of monetary policy captivating, these types of issues almost never register in the lives of normal people. Freedom activists are good at taking the low-percentage shot. The Federal Reserve, drug policy, the gold standard, and highway privatization make up a small sample of the antistatist’s pet-issues library. Although many of these are fringe issues to the general public, for us they are often central. Constantly talking about them becaomes a way to prove our movement bona fides. Too often we dismiss those regular folk who aren’t passionate about our eccentricities. But what we’re really doing is hamstringing the movement’s success. Instead of focusing on the lowpercentage openings, like drug decriminalization, we need to take better shots. We need to meet people where they are, not where we wish they were. Most people care more about finding a job than they do about the Fed and fiat currency, more about taking care of their children than legalizing marijuana, and more about living a good and comfortable life than about intellectual cases. Luckily, the liberty movement has two important advantages going for it. One: the American tradition defines the concept of
liberty as an essential part of our patriotic identity. And two: the practical applications of liberty really do hold the best answers for everyday problems. High-percentage shots come in answering regular people’s concerns. It isn’t important if a new recruit agrees with you 100 percent on your top issue. What really matters is that the new, raw activist absorbs the basic principle of liberty. The simple beauty of the freedom philosophy is its consistency. Unlike the other major political groups, the liberty movement approaches every issue from the same position—that free markets, civil liberties, and self-ownership have been the driving force behind all the positive progress the human race has enjoyed for the past few centuries. We believe that people should be free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t initiate force against someone else. For us, this principle is more important than any of its specific applications. Unlike other political movements, which engage in logical gymnastics to fit reality into their rhetoric, the freedom activist has one, defined goal. Winning people to liberty really means winning them to this core concept. Once someone accepts the basic premise of liberty, their objections to its application will fall like dominoes. A college senior needs to know that there are more jobs when employers are deregulated and can set their own wages. A writer on the student paper needs to see how the free marketplace of ideas uncovers the truth better than censorship. Your pre-med friends need to know how universal health insurance harms the people they want to help (and slashes their own future salaries). Once your targets accept liberty as the best option on the issues they most care about, then widening their perspectives becomes easy. It’s almost like liberty is its own gateway drug. We need to acknowledge that since true freedom is rare in the status-quo culture that the spectrum of pro-liberty policy can be challenging to most people. Instead of forcing new recruits to agree with each and every issue from day one, we should see ourselves as tour guides. Our goal shouldn’t be to insist upon agreement on a particular policy, but rather to introduce prospective allies to the beauty and benefit of our ideas. Freedom activists have a serious problem. It isn’t that our ideas are weak or that people are predisposed to hate us. It’s that we choose to cripple our outreach with ineffective, impractical tactics. We try to win with behind-the-back, off-the-arches arguments. But the solution is easy. Instead of pushing the public to accept liberty through our pet issues, we need to approach people with answers to the things they care about. We need to take better shots. Jeff Fulcher is the Director of Programs at the Advocates for Self-Government. He has a Ph.D. in mixing sports metaphors.
27 Young American Revolution
How liberty activists can change foreign policy
he neoconservative theory of intween partisan positions but between ternational relations rests upon theories—realists vs. liberals. Realist pure ideology and a complete disretheories emphasize national boundgard for domestic fiscal discipline. Yet aries and national interests; liberals even though the failures of this school adhere to international institutions of thought are readily apparent—from and believe in collective action for aid the dumping of troops in Afghanistan and decision-making. Both the GOP to the whirlpool of political failures in and the Democrats have, at various Iraq—neoconservatives remain highly times, acted as both realists and liberinfluential in the Republican Party als—foreign policy ultimately has less (and the Democratic Party, too) and to do with party affiliation than with in much of the press and academia. questions of national survival and heNeoconservatism has had some notegemony. worthy defectors in recent years, howLibertarians can benefit from a ever. Francis Fukuyama, once closely better understanding of internationalidentified with the ideology, has berelations theory. Immediately switchcome critical of the neocon belief that ing from incipient empire to a more “history can be pushed along with the freedom-loving foreign policy is highright application of power and will,” ly improbable, but for any gradual releading him to state that “neoconserorientation of America’s international vatism, as both a political symbol and role to succeed, freedom lovers must a body of thought, has evolved into know who their friends are and which something I can no longer support.” institutions can be won over to our There is now an opening on the side. Realists make better allies than Right for a different kind of foreign liberals—indeed, neoconservatism policy—one more in keeping with the itself, for all its patriotic pretenses, is ideals of the Founding Fathers. Ron a species of foreign-policy liberalism, Paul has given voice to this alternative Soldiers at the end of a patrol near Wynot, Iraq. what neocon Max Boot has called tradition. But as yet, many activists “Hard Wilsonianism.” (President have failed to recognize what must be Woodrow Wilson was the archetypal done to reverse the course of empire. foreign-policy liberal.) The Founders understood that heavily investing in military Understanding that countries such as Iran, Venezuela, Afghan“hard power” abroad would lead to the republic’s destruction. istan, and Iraq will not become friendly to the U.S. overnight, libThey prescribed instead free trade, pure diplomacy, and honest ertarians need to begin by pushing for a less reactionary and more friendship with other nations. Yet today hard power is Washingstrategic foreign policy that angers no state but does business with ton’s solution to practically any problem—real or perceived— all whilst ensuring the safety and security of the American nation; while our diplomatic and commercial “soft power” withers away. to achieve this, we need an articulate strategy, not an emotional European and Chinese businesses trade with Iran, for example, reaction. More is required of us than merely protesting wars. while the U.S. places sanctions upon the Islamic Republic. The A crucial political step is to restore Congress’s constitutional same is true the world over, from Cuba to Africa. America has role in foreign policy. The legislature was never intended to be a become the planet’s policeman, much to the detriment of our parrubber stamp for “authorizing” military adventures already emticipation in the international economy—to say nothing of the barked upon by the president. Congress is supposed to declare war. harm to our international reputation. Getting real about foreign-policy requires reasserting legislative To change this situation, friends of liberty must learn how powers, limiting the executive branch and restoring the constithe foreign-policy game is played. The first lesson is that the ditutional act of declaring war through Congress before sending visions between Republicans and Democrats matter little on the troops abroad. Short of that, empty promises of “bringing the international stage. The foreign-policy community is split not betroops home” mean little. Liberty voters must hold candidates
28 March 2011
policy from within and for the better. to strictest constitutional standards. Outside of government, working And it’s not only voters who have the power to impress change upon for a think-tank can also be an efrepresentatives—noninterventionists fective way to bring about change in should work to join campaigns and America’s stance toward the world. congressional staff, too, where they From policy papers to book writing can have a direct influence. Getting a to news media appearances, thinkCapitol Hill job is much easier if one tank researchers influence foreign has the proper policy background, policy in myriad ways. They can sway which is another reason why familiarpublic opinion (thus indirectly influity with international relations theory encing congressional votes) and the is important. thinking of policymakers directly. Congress is not the only instituThe liberty movement needs more tional vehicle through which freedom scholars to move foreign-policy deactivists can reshape foreign policy. U.S. military at Uday and Qusay Hussein’s hideout. bates in a more nonaggressive, nonJoining the Foreign Service is another interventionist direction. Countering possible route. Although Foreign Serneoconservatism requires academics vice Officers rarely have a direct afwho are keen on freedom and peace and who have an informed fect upon the Secretary of State’s perspective, they do have the and reasonable assessment of global cultures. Reminding people, valuable power of policy dissent. Dissents that explain why ceron paper and in writing, that liberty is a good thing tends to go a tain orders and policies are flawed can eventually find their way to long way. the secretary’s desk, especially if there are enough of them. And With American foreign policy on the verge of imploding unconsidering that the Foreign Service has a substantial number of der the weight of unsustainable debt and military commitments vacancies at presents, there are significant opportunities here for around the globe, it is up to the youth, college students, graduates, well-grounded liberty activists. The beauty of this form of naand young entrepreneurs to begin changing our country’s international service is that the one learns about other cultures at first tional relations. hand. This is precisely what the United States needs today: soundminded individuals with carefully considered perspectives on foreign policy and foreign cultures, people able to change foreign Roy Antoun is a student at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and is editor of the YAL Foreign Policy Handbook.
29 Young American Revolution
Profiles in Liberty
Lawrence Reed—Ambassador of Freedom
awrence Reed, Larry to his friends and many students, is best known as the president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), one of the largest and oldest freemarket educational institutions in the United States. He also founded the Mackinac Center, a free-market think tank in Michigan. Reed is known all over the world for his advocacy of freedom. His stories are laced with optimism and passion, his responses to questions are riddled with quotes from various giants of the liberty movement. Reed’s free-market journey began when he was a young boy in Western Pennsylvania. Reed jokingly notes that his ancestors lived in the area during the Whiskey Rebellion— so he may have inherited some “authorityquestioning genes.” When he was 12 he saw “The Sound of Music” and was entranced by the themes of government oppression versus Lawrence Reed “people who just wanted to be left alone.” In 1968 he witnessed Czechoslovakia’s “Prague Spring,” during which the Czech and Slovak peoples experienced a reawakening of freedom—before being brutally suppressed again by the Soviet Union, which invaded the country and put down the peaceful uprising against communism. Reed remembers wanting to do something but feeling helpless. He joined the conservative youth organization Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) soon after reading a newspaper article about the group. They organized an anti-communist rally in Pittsburgh that he attended. He recalls with pride that he burned a Soviet Union flag in Mellon Square. In those days, YAF was very freedom-oriented, and members would frequently receive books like F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, Frederic Bastiat’s The Law. Reed even recalls being sent copies of The Freeman, the magazine of FEE, the foundation he would lead over 40 years later. As someone who benefited immensely from a student group that advocated free-market ideas, Reed understands how vital organizations like Young Americans for Liberty are. In response to a question about how important liberty-oriented student groups are, he replied, “It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of student groups to the liberty movement!” Reed himself went on to found and lead chapters of YAF at his high school and college.
Lawrence Reed very quickly came to the conclusion that the best way to combat communism was with the ideas of liberty. Educating himself about the moral and economic foundations of freedom became his mission. He attended Grove City College as an undergraduate and had the studied under Dr. Hans Sennholz, who had himself been a student of Ludwig von Mises and was one of the top scholars of Austrian economics in the nation at the time. Reed wrote his first article for The Freeman, FEE’s main publication, in 1977. But to assume Reed is just an egghead would be a serious mistake. Although he’s widely recognized among Austrian economic thinkers, he is also a globe-trotting freedom fighter who has seen tyranny up close. Since 1985 he has visited 70 countries on six continents, mostly during the course of his anticommunist work. He traveled to communist countries including the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Poland—most of them multiple times. He has studied inflation in Brazil, witnessed voodoo ceremonies in Haiti, and defended the leadership of the anticommunist rebellion in Marxist Mozambique. In 1986 he was thrown out of Poland—the only country he was ever tossed out of—after spending two weeks living with the anti-regime underground. Indeed, one of his most treasured possessions is “a copy of Milton Friedman’s book Free to Choose illegally translated into Polish and printed and distributed by the Polish underground. It contains a handwritten inscription from a leading Polish freedomfighter.” Talk about moving—all too often we take for granted that we can stroll down to Barnes and Noble and purchase whatever pro-liberty literature we desire, but here is a tangible artifact of real censorship on a nationwide level. During Reed’s anticommunist travels he spent countless weeks living among and assisting rebels in various countries scourged by tyranny. This means he has firsthand knowledge of the destruction socialism causes: “Socialists have said that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, but as I’ve written in a number of places, socialists never make omelets. They only break eggs.” Reed, unlike many theorists in the liberty movement, does see a need for people to get involved politically. He once ran for Congress himself, in fact. Although he says the lessons he learned
30 March 2011
supportive of freedom for Poland. were important and he has never reWe then went to the window and for gretted it, he discovered that politics hours, all of Warsaw was blinking!’ really is not for him. Yet he recognizes Lawrence Reed was indefatigable, a need for others to be involved, and and indeed he still is, in his pursuits he follows politics very closely. He to help spread the message of liberty. references an Ayn Rand quote for This included putting his life in dangood measure: “I am interested in ger to get pro-liberty literature behind politics so that one day I won’t have the Iron Curtain. to be interested in politics.” This optimism is laced through in When asked about whether there everything Reed suggests to his stuare any politicians he admires, he ofdents and colleagues. When asked fers quite a few caveats. Like any good about what he would want readers to libertarian, he is naturally distrustful know, he urged liberty advocates to of politicians in general and quips, stay hopeful, follow the golden rule, “most of the politicians I admire are FEE was founded in 1946 by Leonard Read and never make enemies out of allies. dead.” He eventually names a few liv“Smile. Stick to your principles. Don’t ing ones: “I deeply appreciate such ever give up.” members of Congress as Ron Paul, Jeff Flake, Mike Pence, Paul Reed’s history in the movement reads like a Who’s Who of Ryan, and Michele Bachmann, and Senators Tom Coburn and Jim freedom: Hans Sennholz, Leonard Read, Henry Hazzlit—he DeMint.” knew them all personally. First and foremost, though, he credits Despite all of Reed’s personal encounters with tyranny all over his father for imparting to him a lifethe globe, he remains unfailingly optime’s worth of knowledge about virtimistic. What did he learn from his tue, honesty, and hard work. In 2003 many travels? “I’ve learned that indiRep. Ron Paul made a speech on the viduals are often phenomenally enterfloor of the House of Representaprising in the face of enormous, artives commending Lawrence Reed for tificial roadblocks.” Reed tells a story his lifetime of service to advancing to audiences all over the world about freedom worldwide. He said of Dr. the Polish underground, a story that Reed, “few have so vigorously thrust he says still moves him to tears: themselves into the intellectual and I remember visiting with a couple policy battle on the side of freedom,” in Poland in 1986 during martial law, high praise indeed. Despite Reed’s Zbigniew and Sofia Romaszewski, remarkable accomplishments, singuwho had just been released from lar life stories, and deep understandprison for running an underground ing of ideas, he still comes across as radio. They were active once again on genial, patient, and most importantly, behalf of freedom because it meant The Foundation is located in Irvington, New York on a pro-liberty. Reed is the liberty moveeverything to them. I asked them seven-acre 19th-century estate ment’s ambassador to the rest of the many questions including, ‘When you world, and we couldn’t ask for a better one. were broadcasting, how did you know if people were listening?’ She said, ‘We could only broadcast a few minutes at a time and then had to go off the air to avoid detection, but one night we Trent Hill [email@example.com] is a history major at Louisiana State University and the editor of IndependentPoliticalReport.com. asked people to blink their lights if they were listening and were
31 Young American Revolution
Secession Brings People Together
Radical Kirkpatrick Sale explains why smaller is more beautiful
hen most Americans think of secessionists—if they think of them at all—they probably think either of grizzled and bearded survivalists holed up with a small arsenal in a Western mountain compound or sweet-tea-sipping, seersucker-wearing Southerners who talk vaguely like Foghorn Leghorn. Alas, the first archetype was noticeably absent from a conference on secession a few months ago. But as the conference was held in Charleston, South Carolina, the very cradle of the Civil War, and sponsored by the Abbeville Institute, which is dedicated to celebrating the “inner light” of Southern culture—as founder and former professor of philosophy at Emory Donald Livingston puts it—Southerners made up the vast majority of the eighty or so in attendance. In fact, the closest thing the conference had to mountain survivalists were Thomas Naylor and Kirkpatrick Sale, representatives from the Second Vermont Republic (SVR), which aims to return the Green Mountain State to the independence it enjoyed from 1777 until it joined the United States in 1791. And even Naylor, founder of SVR, spent most of his life in the South; he was born in Jackson, Mississippi and taught economics at Duke University until his retirement in 1993. Sale is a rarity here: a real Yankee who grew up and attended college in upstate New York—although he currently resides just north of Charleston in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Sale’s politics also make him something of an outsider at this conference. In terms of attendance, the conference is a massive success compared to most other secessionist events, but the viewpoints in evidence are not terribly diverse—most of the speakers and attendees are deeply conservative. During a question and answer session, for instance, a participant suggested that secession might be necessary if the federal government forced the states
to accept gay marriage and received a strong round of applause from the rest of the audience for the idea. But Sale has been known as a man of the Left for many years. After graduating from Cornell in 1958, Sale worked for the prestigious liberal journal New Leader. In 1973, Sale literally wrote the book on Students for a Democratic Society, the emblematic organization of 1960s radicalism, with SDS. In the decades since, Sale has continued to write for left-wing publications like The Nation and Counterpunch. It might seem strange to see him at a conference amid this assortment of bourgeois reactionaries. But Sale finds common ground with these conservatives because he shares their belief in smaller, more localized polities, and he certainly does not see his connection to the secessionists of the Right as any betrayal of the Left. “I would say [decentralism] has always been a minor chord in the anti-authoritarian Left,” he tells me in an interview before the last session of the conference. “SDS, in fact, was an expression of that: people having the right to control ‘the decisions that affect their lives.’ That is a decentralist concept of democracy.” In his 1980 book Human Scale, Sale made the case that our institutions—political, economic, and social—have grown too large and argued that they should be downsized to make them more sustainable and responsive to the individual. He reiterates these themes on the second morning of the conference in his speech “To the Size of States There Is a Limit,” a title Sale borrowed from Aristotle. Despite the emcee’s admiring introduction, Sale instantly comes across as modest, declaring that he does not so much consider himself a scholar as “poor, humble scrivener.” And he looks the part. While all the other presenters and most of the attendees sport three-piece suits, Sale spends the entire weekend in slacks and an unassuming black fleece jacket. With
32 March 2011
his glasses and neatly trimmed beard, he looks like the Beat poet Gary Snyder. Sale begins by considering that Aristotle might be wrong; his world was very different from ours, after all. But Sale is confident that the modern state, particularly the United States, has grown too large, declaring, “We have abundant evidence that a nation of 305 million people can’t work. It is ungovernable!” Then, in his halting manner of speech that serves to emphasize the words before each pause, Sale unfurls an impressive array of statistical evidence to show that not only are small polities viable, they are in fact the best polities: over half of the world’s states have populations of fewer than 5 million people; outside of the United States, the average population size of the top 27 world economies is 5.1 million; 85 countries are under 10,000 square miles in size (roughly as large as Vermont), and 77 percent of prosperous countries are under that size. The average population size of states listed as “free” (again, excluding the U.S.) by various studies is 5 million. And so forth. Iceland, Sale points out, is a beacon of democracy with the oldest parliament in the world, a very high standard of living—and only 319,000 people. “Small is not only beautiful,” Sale concludes, “but bountiful.” Sale contends that large size can be a hindrance to any institution as communication, transportation, and administration costs all scale up alongside population and landmass. Consolidated states, moreover, require vast amounts of money and eventually resort either to inflation, war, or both to expropriate it from the people. Striking a very libertarian chord, he sums up his political thought with what he calls Sale’s Law: “Economic and social misery increases in direct proportion to the size and power of the central government of a nation.” Although pretty much everyone at the conference is at least sympathetic to the idea of secession, most seem to believe that things need not come to that. If only the states could reassert their prerogatives through processes like nullification—in which a state refuses to enforce a federal law and declares it void—the central government could be restrained. But Sale will have none of this milquetoast talk. When 70 percent of Americans agree that the country is broken and cannot be fixed, “The only hope is secession,” he announces with grim determination at the end of his speech. During a short question and answer session afterward, Sale is asked about the resolutions currently being advanced by Tea Party activists claiming that states have the right under the Tenth Amendment to ignore unconstitutional federal laws; Sale tells the questioner that such movements must either crumple under pressure, possibly even violence, from Washington or lead to secession. I ask Sale directly about the Tea Party movement, and he admits it “reflects a deep-seated feeling that Washington is off track, not just spending too much money but faced with a whole range of problems they don’t know how to solve.” However, Sale faults the movement for never raising objections to such massive and obscene exercises of national power as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, and the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. He argues that their silence on these matters indicates that they “don’t understand that this is not because Democrats, Republicans, or whoever the individuals are there but because the system is broken.” But Sale is glad that they are at least mad at the
system and holds out hope that “the ones who follow their anger out to its logical conclusion will be led to secession as the only possible means of getting back to the kinds of democracy and freedom these people think they are fighting for.” Sale seems more excited about the plethora of secessionist groups across the country. The Second Vermont Republic is the best chance in the near future—especially with Naylor announcing a slate of secessionist candidates in Montpelier a few weeks before the conference—but Sale points to a number of other areas as well. Along with Vermont, Texas “come[s] immediately to mind.” Alaska and Hawaii should have better movements, but they lack organization, particularly in Hawaii where the groups keep splintering. (When I point out that this is just secession from secessionist organizations, Sale tells me, “That’s alright. Once they got an independent Hawaii, they can divide up the islands. That wouldn’t bother me a bit.”) Returning to where we stood, Sale mentioned that although the Southern National Congress had not yet made secession a plank of its platform, it had only met twice, and it took the Continental Congress three times before demanding a split with Britain. Yet even with the idea of secession alive and seemingly growing, Sale’s basic outlook remains dyspeptic. At the final roundtable discussion with all the conference’s speakers, one person asked what the chances were of people returning to institutions of human scale, to which Sale replied with very little hesitation, “approximately nil.” Let us hope he is wrong. John Payne is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. He thanks the Abbeville Institute for allowing him to attend free of charge and supplying him with lodging.
33 Young American Revolution
cOllegeS need a revOlutiOn
The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University Louis Menand, W.W. Norton and Co., 176 pages
hether they are students or professors, campus libertarians are often relegated to “kook” status by a statist academic establishment. This lack of open-mindedness stems from a university culture that, in the words of former UC Berkeley Chancellor Clark Kerr, is “so conservative about its own affairs while so liberal about the affairs of others.” Important as it is to call out political bias, Harvard literature professor Louis Menand believes we need to focus our attention on the university’s general tendency to be “so conservative about [its] own affairs.” In The Marketplace of Ideas, Menand attributes the university’s lack of ideological diversity, among its others problems, to a overall reluctance to change anything about itself. Even when change comes to institutions of higher education, it’s often geared towards reinforcing existing paradigms. Few would guess Columbia’s famous general education program was a propaganda course for American intervention in World War I. (It was charmingly titled “War Aims”; Columbia historian Robert McCaughey described the class as “apologetics for the Allies, with no pretense at balance.”) Yet while deeply flawed, the American university undoubtedly remains an important institution. After all, despite all of our criticism of higher education, most of us still readily fork over tuition fees. Since the university plays an important role in our lives, we should seek to rectify rather than ignore its problems. Menand doesn’t offer many quick fixes to these problems, and those solutions he does offer aren’t exactly libertarian ones. But he is right to say we must educate ourselves about the history of the university before credibly attempting to cure its maladies. To that end, Menand’s informative book answers four important questions: Why is it so hard to institute a general education curriculum? Why did the humanities disciplines undergo a crisis of legitimation? Why has “interdisciplinarity” become a magic word? And why do all professors tend to have the same politics? General education courses—those all students must take regardless of major—are often relegated by students to “GPA padder” status. But the universities designing general education curriculums certainly take them seriously. This is demonstrated by the intense competition between departments to get their courses
included in the curriculum. They have good reasons to want a piece of the pie. The “liberal culture” instilled by general education is the lens through which the educated will see the world. As the educated become society’s leaders, they pass their worldview on to the rest of the population. Altering the general curriculum thus alters the worldview of the entire country. Even the staunchest libertarian and methodological individualist must admit that the mainstream acceptance of new-age values like “diversity” could not have come from person-by-person inquiry and persuasion alone. Two main forms of general-education program exist: “core curriculums,” which specify courses a student must take, and the more lenient “distribution system,” which requires students to take various courses outside their major, but let’s them choose which ones to take. The latter is the program at most universities. Menand attributes this to the anti-establishment movement of the 1960s, which pushed academia away from the authority-respecting academic mindset of the early Cold War. But Menand notes that the core curriculum has made a comeback over the last decade. The post-’60s skepticism of consensus has resulted in “no one thinking what students need to know is self evident.” Universities are starting to agree that whatever it is that students need to know, “college has an obligation to give it to them.” In one of his most powerful attempts at advocacy, Menand argues for a strong system of mandatory general education. Claiming that liberal education merely teaches students to think, rather than imposing a subjective set of values, Menand believes that general education gives us the best of all worlds. Not only are critical thinking skills useful in all professions, but learning for the sake of learning will prove fulfilling for a student in the long term. And a liberal education will give students the ability to “make more enlightened contributions to the common good.” Yet while Menand claims that a liberal arts education can be wholly dispassionate, in reality self-interest influences everyone. Academics are no different; their vested interest in particular ideas gets in the way of genuinely open-minded inquiry. The best way to test the validity of a particular idea is to allow students to choose
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classes they want, rather than trusting universities to mandate specific courses. Perhaps “social justice” is a legitimate field of study and perhaps not. But we’ll never know if universities continue to stymie competition by imposing such courses on students through general education curriculums. These and all other courses ought to succeed or fail on their own merits through totally open competition. In addition to opposing government intervention in higher education, libertarians should advocate that private universities voluntarily abolish general education requirements. We shouldn’t expect this move to make people more receptive to our ideas overnight. Still if we believe in our ideas, we should think they would stand a better chance through more open competition. Another key problem of academia Menand addresses is the perceived unseriousness of some of its subjects. Specifically, some of the humanities are undergoing a “crisis of legitimacy.” Regardless of whether we attribute this problem to an ignorant public or a deficient professoriate, it is clearly a relevant one. To address this problem, Menand again turns to his knowledge of academia’s history. At first glance, the university’s “Golden Age” of 1945-1975 seems to be aptly named. Americans of this generation were 500 percent more likely than the previous generation to attend school. Past religious sentimentality gave way to a “dispassionate” spirit of sober truth-seeking in higher education. A spirit of discipline shaped a dedicated, efficient student body. The humanities shared this strict devotion to truth-seeking. Even seemingly subjective, abstract studies like creative literature “relied on the notion that texts can be interpreted non-contextually, and that these interpretations have hard-and-fast degrees of validity.” However, Menand notes that this era had at least as much superficiality as solid accomplishments. Many uninterested students attended college only for a military draft-avoiding education deferment. Budgets for supposedly “dispassionate” research ballooned largely because of government subsidies. Indeed, the “value-free” research of the era was largely based off of a desire for scholars “not to offend their granting agencies.” The failure of the war in Vietnam led to skepticism about the neutrality and credibility of academia, both in its political and moral judgments. By 1975, conventional wisdom was that the war was immoral and unnecessary. But decades earlier, much of the political and academic establishments had supported it. Why should these voices, asked a cynical populace, continue to be revered after being proven so terribly wrong? Menand describes how the war led to a growing antiestablishment movement, especially in the humanities. The idea caught on that there was no objective truth to be found in the humanities. The prejudices and self-interest of an individual played a role in even the most sober humanist’s reasoning. Menand seems to believe that contradictory aspects of the humanities aren’t necessarily right or wrong. They’re just different. However, he believes humanism’s “eclecticism” need not have reduced it to irrelevancy. New fields arising from the humanities’
ostensibly inclusive, non-conformist mentality, such as women’s, studies don’t represent a deviation from the traditional model, but a challenge to it. They are highlighting factors old paradigms overlooked because of their internal biases and homogeneity. Indeed, Menand argues that the humanities’ crisis of “illegitimacy” is “performing a service to the universe,” insofar as it represents a perpetual challenge. If scholars always need to justify themselves, they’re more likely to produce good scholarship. But Menand’s claim that uncertainty is a good in and of itself is faulty. Isn’t the whole point of academic inquiry to discern truth? The new fields that Menand praises, like women’s and black studies, are themselves rooted in accepted moral truths, such as the idea that it is immoral to discriminate based on race and gender. While rejecting Menand’s solution, however, liberty-minded youth shouldn’t disregard his reasoning. Objective truth is difficult to discern in the humanities, and it’s very dangerous to accept uncritically whatever you are told. While we must reject academic nihilism in favor of the pursuit of truth, even our most deeply held views must be questioned from time to time. Failing to do so will only perpetuate the crisis of the humanities. Next, Menand describes how “interdisciplinarity,” became a buzzword of modern academia, and what that means. There are certainly good reasons for it. Among other things, interdisciplinarity exposes academics to alternative viewpoitns and helps them come up with original ideas. Still, interdisciplinarity is sometimes criticized as pseudoscientific, subversive, and a distraction from sound research. The strict disciplinary boundaries of the “Golden Age” were broken down into a pseudoscientific “anti-disciplinary” university by the infiltration of 1960s countercultural radicals, so the story goes. Menand rightly dispels these false impressions, noting that interdisciplinarity is not “transgressive, transformational, or even new.” The Golden Age was the anomaly, with the government heavily intervening in academia to maximize students’ utility to the state. Prior to 1945, interdisciplinarity was quite common. But maybe nostalgia for disciplinary segregation is justified? Confining professionals to studying their own fields is clearly desirable to an extent. A doctor cannot effectively practice medicine if he is distracted with ecology. A lawyer cannot effectively practice law if she is preoccupied with finance. Opportunity costs and tradeoffs apply to academics as they do to everyone else. This objection brings us to the history of professionalism, which Menand describes quite well. He demonstrates that the present crisis of legitimacy is hardly unique to the humanities. All disciplines have withstood the same challenge at some point. In the 19th to early 20th centuries, their answer was professionalization, or the imposing of standardized requirements. Rather than uncritically taking the mainstream line about standardization’s greatness, Menand paints a more nuanced picture. Professionalism is conducive to freedom and prosperity. It functions as an “extension of the division of labor,” by acting as “a mechanism for producing the specialized experts who are needed
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to perform those tasks.” On the other hand, state-mandated professionalism is “monopolistic,” and monopolies are self-interested. They can be expected to work to maintain their advantage, even at the expense of sober inquiry. The libertarian response to the problem is to open competition by abolishing government certification of professionals. But this would hardly be a sufficient check on professionals’ social power. To be sure, Menand is right that there are methods of selfregulation by private professional groups. And there is something to be said for his point that the character and intelligence of professionals makes them naturally devoted to dispassionate research. But there still must be another method of checking professionalism’s social power. That method, Menand believes, is interdisciplinarity. By making academics codependent on each other, we ensure that no department will become too powerful. If one department produces low-quality research, it undermines the whole university. Interdisciplinarity promotes accountable departments and proactive university administration. For these reasons, it is conducive to change and libertarians ought to promote it. By far the shortest and most interesting section of the book is the fourth, about the political views of academics. There are many surprising discoveries in this section. Professors are heavily ideological, but in a more homogeneous way than Americans tend to think. Citing studies from Harvard and George Mason University, Menand debunks the myth of the radical professoriate. Only 9.4 percent of professors identify as very liberal and just 3 percent consider themselves “Marxists.” In fact, professors are “overwhelmingly” mainstream liberals, “not Ralph Naderites or socialists.” But while the radical Left is on the decline, conservatism of any stripe is even less popular. Case in point: in the 2004 presidential election, 0 percent of humanities professors voted for George W Bush. That’s right: statistically, 0 percent. Clearly, the common moniker of “radicalism” attached to universities by people like David Horowitz is a myth. Instead, we have a startling center-left homogeneity of political views among professors. And those academics with radical views, most of whom came of age during Vietnam, are dying and retiring. They are being replaced by newcomers less cynical about the state. This is a disturbing trend. Though libertarians may oppose the counterculture movement’s libertinism and socialist leanings, the country undoubtedly became a freer place because of them, through the abolition of forced segregation, conscription, and the end of the Vietnam War. We need more radical professors of all ideologies at universities, because radicalism encourages dissenting viewpoints. America is in recession, perpetually at war, and bankrupt. The academic status quo has failed at leading us, and we can’t afford to let it go unchallenged. Acknowledging the problems surrounding the fact that all professors tend to think the same way, Menand offers an interesting proposal: why not make the process necessary to become
a professor shorter and easier? It is discouraging enough for a conservative, libertarian, or radical professor to try to work for people who almost all disagree with him. But if the process were streamlined, he may be more likely to give it a shot. Menand’s suggestion is interesting and worth looking into. In any case, internal biases currently play a role in the ideology of professors. These biases, argues Menand, need to be repudiated. “Fostering a greater diversity of views within the professoriate is a worthy goal,” he argues, but the current university “implicitly demands and constructs conformity.” On this point, libertarians must emphatically agree and redouble their efforts to change things. By describing the problem of general education, the legitimacy question of the humanities, the controversy of interdisciplinarity, and the issues resulting from all professors agreeing with each other, Louis Menand has written a worthy book on the problems of the American university. The growing libertarian youth movement is in a particularly good position to change things. We are, after all, simultaneously blessed with radical political principle and a heartfelt commitment to free inquiry. But only by educating ourselves on the machinations and history of the university will we be able to reach a day where universities are a bit more conservative about upholding the Constitution, and a bit more tolerant about deviations from their own traditions. Matt Cockerill is a student of philosophy and economics at Creighton University.
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No Apology: The Case for American Greatness Mitt Romney, St. Martin’s Press, 336 pages
t’s hard to imagine a politician more schizophrenic than Mitt Romney. As Massachusetts governor, Romney was pro-choice, supported amnesty for illegal aliens, and was gay friendly. As a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Romney became pro-life and opposed amnesty and gay marriage. In No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Romney says hardly anything about abortion, illegal aliens, or social issues, but plenty about how government must grow and do more. His biggest beef with President Obama is about where it should grow and what it should do. Critics might be inclined to compare Romney’s big-government philosophy to that of the last Republican president, but Romney’s is actually worse—particularly on the issue that has most defined Bush’s legacy. Whereas President Bush ran for president in 2000 opposing Bill Clinton’s nationbuilding overseas (something Bush would not live up to), Romney begins his book, and presumably his 2012 campaign, by making clear that his concept of “American greatness” is inextricably tied to more war, more nation-building, and an even more ambitious foreign policy. Romney not only firmly believes the U.S. should be the world’s policeman, but continuously frames practical foreignpolicy questions in moralistic, quasi-religious language. Claims Brother Romney: “there can be no rational denial of the reality that America is decidedly a good nation. Therefore it is good for America to be strong ... freedom for our grandchildren and for people everywhere can be guaranteed only by America—a strong America.” Looking back on the 20th century, Romney explains: “we found that our vital interests could not be secure in the face of threats to the cause of freedom elsewhere ... America took on the task of anticipating, containing, and eventually defeating threats to the progress of freedom in the belief that actively protecting others was the best way to protect ourselves.” For Romney, foreign policy is not simply a question of the national interest or even practical defense, but of securing freedom for “people everywhere.” To him, “American greatness” means recognizing that the national interest and global interests are, and always have been, indistinguishable. While Bush said in 2000 of America’s dealings with other nations, “If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us... If we’re a humble nation but strong, they’ll welcome us,” Romney explicitly rejects the idea that America has been or ever could be “arrogant.” Bush’s notion of a humble na-
tion directly contradicts what Mitt believes makes America great—benevolent hubris. Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to presidents George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford, gives some insight into the origins of Romney’s philosophy: “I think we developed in the Republican Party a—well, you know, the buzzword for it is ‘neoconism.’ But I think what it is, it’s an ideology—it’s really an idealistic approach to things. But it’s a combination of idealism and, if you will, brute force.” Whereas in 2000 Bush believed America should lead by example, in 2010 Romney believes America should lead by sheer force based on an idealistic notion of America’s purpose and greatness. He dedicates a good third of his book to this explicitly neoconservative concept. Romney use of neoconservative ideology as a platform to position himself as “Mr. Republican” for the 2012 GOP is particularly interesting when contrasting his views with the original “Mr. Republican,” Sen. Robert Taft, widely considered the GOP’s conservative standard bearer in the mid-20th century. While Romney’s Republican brand begins and ends with Dick Cheney, Taft looked back to George Washington, or as John Moser of the Ashbrook Center writes, Taft believed “the ultimate purpose of our foreign policy must be to protect the liberty of the people of the United States.’ Having made this clear, he went to great lengths to discuss what U.S. foreign policy should not be. He was completely opposed, for example, to the idea that wars should be fought as ‘crusades’.” Where Romney looks back on World War II as a war to protect “freedom everywhere,” Taft “rejected the notion that World War II was fought ‘to impose our ideas of freedom on the rest of the world,’ … . In a speech given in the summer of 1946, he emphasized that the U.S. had only entered World War II in order ‘to maintain the freedom of our own people .... Certainly, we did not go to war to reform the world’.” Whereas George Washington warned against “foreign entanglements” and John Quincy Adams advised that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” Romney wants endless entanglements and sees monsters to destroy everywhere. In addition to championing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Romney considers Iran, China, North Korea, and Russia grave threats and also believes it is the America’s moral obligation to admit Georgia into NATO, which would have conceivably put
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American boots on the ground in that country in 2008. During dictatorships than the world had seen for many days.’ He was certhat border battle between Georgia and Russia, a campaigning tain that another war would destroy American democracy, creating John McCain immediately injected that we Americans were “all ‘an absolute arbitrary dictatorship in Washington.” Georgians now.” No doubt Romney shared McCain’s sentiment, History notes that World War II and the administration of though what concrete interests the U.S. might have in that conflict Franklin Roosevelt—a president Taft firmly opposed—coincided are speculative at best. with one of the largest expansions of government power in Amer“American greatness” is more accurately described by Romney ican history. While “Mr. Republican” Taft feared big government as “American exceptionalism,” someabroad might lead to big government thing the author defines as maintainat home, would-be “Mr. Republican” ing U.S. global dominance through Romney believes big government military might. Criticizing President abroad is not only America’s primary Obama for not subscribing to this mission, but somehow protects limnotion with sufficient passion, Romited government at home. For Romney writes “in response to a question ney, constitutional government is an about whether [Obama] believed in afterthought in the wake of the end‘American exceptionalism’—a phrase less pursuit of more war; for Taft, war that indicates America has a special would inevitably render constitutional place and role in the world—he regovernment an afterthought. plied ‘I believe in American excepRomney writes of President Obama, “His effort to expand the tionalism, just as I suspect the Brits size, reach and role of government is believe in British exceptionalism and without precedent in our history,” yet the Greeks in Greek exceptionalism.’ the former Massachusetts governor— Which is another way of saying he who still defends TARP but complains doesn’t believe it at all.” Not so coinit’s just being handled wrong—actively cidentally, Romney firmly rejects those promotes a foreign policy whose size, who “believe that we should simply reach and role is also without precaccept the notion that our power is edent in our history, of precisely the limited.” Limiting government power? type that Taft feared. Writes The AmerThis conservative impulse is anathema ican Conservative’s Daniel Larison: “A to Romney. huge standing army, military outposts Romney sees military domination scattered around the globe, perpetual as the very definition of American war and the arbitrary use of force by greatness. Taft also believed in the executive order—are these really comexceptionalism of Americans—but patible with the national character[?]... considered war a threat to it. Writes The security and warfare state is … far Official Massachusetts State House portrait of Moser: “Foremost among the prin- Governor Mitt Romney. Artist Richard Whitney. more alien to these shores than any ciples that guided Taft’s foreign policy entitlement program. It is far more was a strong faith in the exceptionalism of America and its people. dangerous to the constitutional government that truly was one Although he was educated at Yale and Harvard, Taft’s belief in of the most admirable achievements of our ancestors, and it goes basic American values was one that he shared with most Midagainst the grain of most of our national history.” westerners of his time, particularly those of his native Cincinnati. In 2000, Bush campaigned on a foreign policy closer to that of Like them, he was convinced that the United States was based on America’s first president, but went on to drive his administration certain noble ideas that placed the nation far above the rest of in the opposite direction. With this book, Romney has kicked off the world.” So far, Taft’s belief in American exceptionalism seems an early 2012 presidential campaign by abandoning the limited little different from Romney’s. But Moser continues: “Of these government vision of the Founders from the start, while making ideas, individual liberty was for him the most important; indeed, the case that imperial hubris is the very definition of “American he proclaimed early and often that the ‘principal purpose of the Greatness.” foreign policy of the United States is to maintain the liberty of If the big government case for perpetual war and protracted our people.’ He held that there were three fundamental requireempire Romney makes in his book counts as “conservatism” in 2010, then limited-government advocates will need to find a new ments for the maintenance of such liberty—an economic system term. And if Mitt Romney becomes the Republican presidential based on free enterprise, a political system based on democracy, nominee in 2012, conservatives will need to find a new party. and national independence and sovereignty. All three, he feared, might be destroyed in a war, or even by extensive preparations for Jack Hunter is the “Southern Avenger” columnist for The American war... . The First World War had, he claimed, ‘set up more extreme Conservative.
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KnOW thine eneMY
Leviathan Thomas Hobbes, introduction by Peter Berkowitz, Regnery, 619 pages The Social Contract Jean-Jacques Rousseau, introduction by Roger Scruton, Regnery, 227 pages
o many libertarians, the essence of political philosophy is simple and straightforward. Each person is a selfowner; he has the right to prevent others from using his body or labor without his consent. By appropriating unowned land, further, he can acquire property, which then becomes his. Other people, individually or in concert, may not take it from him without his consent. By exchange or gift to others, property may be passed on from its original owner; but, in principle, all property may be traced to an initial act of appropriation. In this view, the structure of rights to personal liberty and property cannot rightfully be disrupted by a government that claims the power to tax and otherwise coerce people. Quite the contrary, persons in the libertarian conception have no need to resort to the State to protect themselves; they can do so through private contractual arrangements. This position, developed in great detail by Murray Rothbard, strikes me as entirely persuasive. However convincing libertarians may find it, though, it stands far from the mainstream of political philosophy. Libertarianism certainly has antecedents in the standard literature, most notably in John Locke’s advocacy of self-ownership; indeed, Rothbard can be seen as a radical Lockean. Nevertheless, the bulk of modern political philosophy is far more statist than libertarians would like. Two of the greatest works of modern political theory, Leviathan and The Social Contract, stand among the foremost representatives of statist thought. Regnery Publishing has recently released new editions of both books, with introductions by contemporary political philosophers. By studying these classics, libertarians will be able to understand very ways of looking at morals and politics very different from their own. Thomas Hobbes’s long life (1588-1679) encompassed the English Civil War, and aversion to civil strife and its attendant disorders lies at the root of his political theory. How had the Civil War arisen, and how may a polity be secured
against collapse? Hobbes answers the first question in Behemoth, his history of the Civil War. Various factions, in the grip of competing religious doctrines, disrupted the order of the State. In rebelling against duly constituted authority, they placed in jeopardy man’s principal social aim, the preservation of peace. The lesson is that disastrous wars of religion must at all costs be avoided. No doubt disorder and civil strife are bad. But, one might object to Hobbes, are not religious believers required to obey their consciences, come what may? This is precisely what Hobbes denied. His view, antithetical to the whole classical liberal tradition, was that the sovereign had the right to prescribe the articles of religion. Christians could not object, demanding that their own theological opinions be followed. All that is necessary for salvation, Hobbes says, is “to repent, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ.” Given these minimal requirements, no subject could properly insist on more: “And in case a subject be forbidden by the civil sovereign to profess some of those his opinions, upon what just ground can he disobey? Christian kings may err ... but who shall judge?” (Leviathan, Chapter XLIII) The authority of the sovereign is of course not confined to governing religion. He possesses unlimited power. To arrive at this drastic doctrine, Hobbes begins from his famous state of nature. For each person, the preservation of his own life stands as the foremost requirement of reason. (Evidently, Hobbes had read Atlas Shrugged.) To secure his life, everyone ought to seek peace, provided that others are willing to do so as well. Lacking a common authority, though, people cannot obtain the peace they seek. They will have to be constantly on guard against one another; and, even if most people sincerely desire peace, a few evildoers will suffice to create general disorder. The Hobbesian state of nature is a state of war. “In such condition there is no place for industry … no arts; no letters; no society; and, which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Leviathan, Chapter XIII. Every article on Hobbes is required to
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quote this passage.) Faced with such a dire situation, how can the people in it escape? Each person, in the state of nature, has the right to do whatever he deems necessary to preserve his own life; but he can cede his right to someone else. Is this not a foolish thing to do? Not, Hobbes thinks, if everyone in society cedes his right of nature to the same person, who then becomes the sovereign. Under these circumstances, there will no longer be general fear and constant enmity, since everyone has agreed to accept the decisions of the sovereign as binding. One might object that Hobbes has not solved his problem. What if people go back on their agreement? Hobbes answers that they will have no choice in the matter. They have surrendered their arms to the sovereign, and he is now in a position to compel them to fulfill their promise to obey him. “Covenants without the sword, are but words.” Of course, there is an obvious problem with Hobbes’s solution to the problem of disorder. Everyone is now at the mercy of the sovereign. The situation is made worse because the sovereign has made no promises to his subjects: rather, they have mutually promised to obey him. Hobbes does recognize one limit to this total surrender. Because the purpose of the agreement is to increase the ability of each person to preserve his own life, no one can give up his right to life. Should the sovereign command someone to give up his life, the subject need not obey. Furthermore, the sovereign will know that he acts in a sufficiently oppressive manner, people will cease to obey him. Hobbes’s moral theory requires that they do obey—they have made a binding promise to do so—but most people will not always do what justice requires. This knowledge will serve to check the sovereign. Readers who have read the 19th-century American anarchist Lysander Spooner will raise an obvious point: people have never actually made an agreement of the sort Hobbes has conjured up. What relevance, then, does Hobbes’s discussion have for real states? Hobbes knew full well that most states had not arisen through mutual agreement, but he thought that this did not matter. Even if someone becomes sovereign by conquest, threatening to kill people if they do not accept his rule, subjects are still required to obey. By thinking about the dire outcome that would ensue were society to lapse into chaos, subjects will realize that they are fortunate indeed to find themselves under the command of a sovereign. How they got there is irrelevant. One further clarification is essential. When Hobbes speaks of a sovereign, he does not mean that only a state ruled by a king is legitimate. Although he himself thinks monarchy the best form of government, he recognizes that aristocracies and democracies are also acceptable. Whatever the form of the sovereign, though, the obligation to obey remains constant. Libertarians will rightly recoil from Hobbes’s remedy for dis-
order. The fatal objection to his system is no less true for being blindingly apparent. Hobbes is certainly right that disorder is undesirable; but the dangers of an unchecked sovereign far exceed the discomforts of the state of nature. Hitler, Stalin, Mao—the historical record teaches an unmistakable lesson. Hobbes had constantly in mind the need to avoid the passions of civil war; but the English Civil War, after all, was not an example of his state of nature. Rather, two competing sides struggled to obtain sovereignty. It is the existence of a powerful state, not its absence, that leads to war and massacre. And Hobbes vastly underestimates the ability of people to reach voluntary agreements to protect themselves. Hobbes should have read Murray Rothbard as well as Ayn Rand. Peter Berkowitz has written, on the whole, a useful introduction to Regnery’s edition of Leviathan. He is, I regret to say, a neoconservative, and in one instance this disfigures his remarks. He constructs a wholly imaginary Hobbesian right of foreign intervention on humanitarian grounds. “Where the threat to the international order is sufficiently grave and sovereignty has been forfeited by inaction or incompetence or nullified by a government’s violently turning on its own people, states may reasonably perceive a national interest in intervening abroad to head off humanitarian disaster or thwart crimes against humanity.” Berkowitz does not pretend to find this supposed “right” in the text of Leviathan, and he should have written about his argument somewhere else—or better still, not written about it at all. Hobbes unacceptably puts liberty in jeopardy; does Rousseau do better? He certainly professes concern with freedom. He asks, “Is a method of associating discoverable which will defend and protect, with all the collective right, the person and property of each associate, and in virtue of which each associate, though he becomes a member of the group, nevertheless obeys only himself, and remains as free as before?” (The Social Contract, Chapter VI.) It is clear that his answer is yes; but readers of a libertarian bent will not be impressed. Rousseau’s conception of freedom is most peculiar. Everyone surrenders all his rights to a collective body, consisting of the whole population. Because each person has made an equal surrender to this collective body, he is somehow equally free! “Each gives himself to everybody, so that … he gives himself to nobody and since every associate acquires over every associate the same power he grants to every associate over himself, each gains an equivalent for all that he loses, together with greater power to protect what he possesses.” If everyone has surrendered everything in this way, it becomes of crucial significance to find out how this collective body makes its decisions. Unfortunately, Rousseau leaves us largely in the dark. He tells us that society is properly ruled by the “general will,” which is not to be equated with the “will of all.” The general will
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can, if properly informed, never, err; but Rousseau does not tell us how we can know that a collective decision really expresses the general will. What happens if someone does not agree with the decision of the general will? Suppose, e.g., that the general will decides that inequality of incomes should be placed under strict limits. You are among the wealthy and do not wish to surrender what you take to be your legitimate property. Have you any right to resist? The answer will come as no surprise. You have surrendered everything to the collective body; so, no more than the Hobbesian subject, have you any right to resist. How, then, does, Rousseau differ from Hobbes? He does so in this way. Hobbes does not disguise the fact that that if the sovereign commands you to do something you do not want, your freedom has been restricted. Rousseau, in Orwellian fashion, says that in this case, you are free because what the general will has decided is what you “really” want to do, your present opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. In a passage to which the distinguished British philosopher Roger Scruton calls attention in his excellent introduction, Rousseau says: “In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence.” (The Social Contract, Chapter VII) Rousseau here adumbrates one of the most dangerous ideas in
the history of political philosophy. To be free, according to this idea, is to be able to do what your real self wants, not what you, in your present consciousness, think that you want. What your real self wants is what you would want, if you were fully rational, well informed, and sought to attain what is good for you. Thus, you really want to surrender your money for redistribution, even though you have to be pried loose from your cashbox kicking and screaming. Rousseau has here fallen victim to what Scruton aptly calls “an intoxicating metaphysical picture.” Of course, you are not free if you have to be coerced into giving up your money, even if on sober thought you should not have resisted. In practice, Rousseau’s idea will lead to some people deciding what they think is good for others, forcing them to do it, and calling the outcome “freedom.” Therein lies the path to dictatorship. Unfortunately, we are not rid of this malign idea. An influential group of contemporary economists claim that we can be “nudged” out of our irrational preferences while remaining free. Such irrational choices do not express what we really want. (See, e.g., Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Nudge.) Rousseau could not have said it better. If Hobbes and Rousseau serve more as warning signs than guides to a true account of freedom and order, studying them nevertheless puts one in contact with two powerful and immensely influential thinkers. By trying to see where they went wrong, we sharpen our own ideas. David Gordon is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and editor of The Mises Review.
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43 Young American Revolution
44 March 2011
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