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Rethinking the American Union for the Twenty-First Century Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589809572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589809574
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In this thought-provoking collection, editor Donald Livingston presents seven essays addressing the modern paradigm of centralization. An outgrowth of the Abbeville Institute Scholars' Conference held in Charleston, South Carolina in February of 2010, this collection presents an exploration of state nullification, secession, and the human scale of political order. Scholars from a variety of backgrounds delve into such complex issues as nationalism, government by judiciary, the effects of size on the republican tradition, and natural progressions in rethinking nationalistic government. By returning to original source materials, including the Constitution, the essayists clarify topics as diverse as the source of nationalism and influences of early political figures, the role of size in government, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union with parallels evident in the United States. The essays provide clear evidence of the centralized government's ongoing power struggle with individual states. They offer concise justification for immediate action to preserve the sovereignty of member states while protecting all citizens from the ever-expanding federal government and restrictions on freedoms. As a collective, they provide a modern cautionary tale for the twenty-first century. About the Authors Editor Donald Livingston is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Emory University. He is the president of the Abbeville Institute, an organization of higher education devoted to the study of what is true and valuable in Southern tradition. Kent Masterson Brown is a practicing attorney who has argued cases in constitutional law before the Supreme Court and in several state supreme courts. Dr. Marshall DeRosa is a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University and the author of several books on politics and the Confederate constitution. Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo is a professor of economics at Loyola University Maryland and a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. His articles have been published widely in academic journals and major newspapers. Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of twelve books and director of the Middlebury Institute for the study of separatism, secession, and self-determination. Yuri Maltsev received a doctorate from the Institute of Labor Research in Moscow, Russia and served on the senior team of Soviet economists on Gorbachev's economic reform programs. He is a professor of economics at Carthage College and has lectured around the world. Rob Williams is the editor and publisher of Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence, an independent multimedia news journal. He is also professor of media/communications at Champlain College.

From the Back Cover

Is the United States simply too big to govern? These essays begin the discussion. In 2003 Donald Livingston and a group of academics formed the Abbeville Institute, an organization of higher learning dedicated to a scholarly study of what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition. In 2010 the Institute sponsored a conference to focus on "State Nullification, Secession and the Human Scale of Political Order." Scholars from across the political spectrum came together to examine the unwieldy political strategy of centralization and the resultant expanding scale of government. This collection of essays grew out of that discourse, providing fresh insights at a time when the nineteenth-century nationalistic language of "one and indivisible" is losing its salience. Kent Masterson Brown demonstrates that the Constitution ratified in 1789 was, and is, a compact between distinct political societies. Marshall DeRosa reviews the current revival of states' rights in the Tea Party movement. Thomas DiLorenzo examines the transformation of a federative constitution grounded in state sovereignty into a nationalist constitution in which the central government defines the limits of its own power through judicial review. Donald Livingston explores the question of size, scale, and true republican government in historic context. Yuri Maltsev brings forth the modern secessionist example, discussing in depth the peaceful separation of fifteen states from the Soviet Union and the lessons to be learned by thoughtful Americans. Kirkpatrick Sale seeks to raise awareness that the republican values of self-government and rule of law cannot exist unless certain conditions of size and scale are satisfied, while questioning what the optimum size should be. Rob Williams examines secession as it exists today, providing a substantive history of the movement and its introduction into the mainstream discussion of runaway centralization.

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Customer Reviews

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This book is an eye opening read!
Livingston thinks most members of the Tea Party Movement think that gaining control of the three branches of U.S. government will solve their problem.
If there is an overarching thesis of the book, it may be found in the following words from Livingston, in his introduction.
Brad Green

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Brad Green on May 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a pleasure to recommend a new book edited by Donald Livingston. The book is titled Rethinking the American Union for the Twenty-First Century (Pelican Publishing Company, 2012). The book consists of seven essays, plus an Introduction written by Livingston. The book springs out of a conference held by the Abbeville Institute in 2010.

If there is an overarching thesis of the book, it may be found in the following words from Livingston, in his introduction. The essays in the book are "efforts to rethink the philosophical, political, moral, and constitutional assumptions that have led us to think that size and scale do not matter in political things and that have produced a regime suffering from elephantitis, with little understanding of its condition and even less inclination to seek such understanding" (p. 23).

Here are the chapter titles:

Introduction: "The Old Assumptions No Longer Apply" (Donald Livingston)

Chapter 1: "Secession: A Constitutional Remedy that Protects Fundamental Liberties" (Kent Masterson Brown)

Chapter 2: "The Founding Fathers of Constitutional Subversion" (Thomas DiLorenzo)

Chapter 3: "The Tenth Amendment Awakening, the Supreme Court Be Damned (Marshall DeRosa)

Chapter 4: "American Republicanism and the Forgotten Question of Size" (Donald Livingston)

Chapter 5: "'To the Size of States There is a Limit': Measurements for the Success of a State" (Kirkpatrick Sale)

Chapter 6: "Too Big to Fail? Lessons from the Demise of the Soviet Union" (Yuri Maltsev)

Chapter 7: "Most Likely to Secede: U.S.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mek1959 on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Donald Livingston from Emory University does an excellent job bringing together a new brand of academics pushing back on the old story line of the War between the States; this book might just challenge everything you've been taught about 1860-1865. Written for the "layman," this book is an easy read and I personally read it in one day...and then read it again!

In particular, Professor Livingston's article about the "scale" of government is an eye-opener. This notion of scale may very well end up as the best chance the "Liberty Movement" possesses to offer an alternative to the national government now occupying Washington DC. However, before the solution can be properly understood, it is important to understand how the national (vs. federal) government came to being. Professor Livingston and the other academics in this book provide the answers. Uncomfortable truths indeed! If you care about liberty and fear the explosion of national government control over our lives, this is a MUST read!"
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Observer on May 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This challenging essay collection examines alternatives to the United States government, which is now a centralized, unitary state with almost unlimited powers over its citizens. Seven essayists are concerned with remedies for the size to which the U.S. has grown in population and territory and the impossibility of the centralized U.S government being truly responsive to its citizens. An eighth explains how economic policies can cause national collapse as well as regeneration.

Donald Livingston, editor and essayist, notes that their question is posed at a time when "Many political, business, and cultural elites are shifting their allegiance away from their nation-states to supranational entities."

Livingston notes, however, that George Kennan, architect of U.S. policy to contain the Soviet Union, argues that the U.S. has become too big for the purposes of self-government. The U.S. now rules more than 305 million people, by imposing one-size-fits-all rules, which result in a "diminished sensitivity of its laws and regulations to the particular needs, traditions, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and the like of individual localities. "

Size, Kennan says, has encouraged an abstract ideological style of politics that favors universalistic, egalitarian solutions applied across the board to all parts of the population. "Particularly is this true of the United States, with its highly legalistic traditions, its dislike...of any sort of discriminating administration, its love for dividing people into categories, its fondness for regulating their lives in terms of these categories and treating them accordingly, rather than looking at the needs of individuals or of smaller groups and confronting these on the basis of common sense and reasonable discrimination.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Q. Tognoni on February 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lincoln was wrong and we would have been much better off if the south had seceded from the union. Just like the problem we have now with our over bloated and over demanding federal government the states should secede to bring the federal government in line. You also need to also read any of DiLoraezo's books on Lincoln. Lincoln did not free the slaves or save the union. He almost destroyed states rights and our constitution.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eric V Neff on July 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
American mainstream political debates are constricted today to the point where they are hardly debates at all. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of Comedy Central's brilliant and lude animated "South Park" series, expressed this frustration grotesquely and beautifully in the run-up to the 2004 Presidential election. Elementary school children had to choose between either a "Douchebag" or a "Turd Sandwich" as its school mascot. (One child was eventually kicked out of school for refusing to vote, drawing the ire of his community for failing in his civic duty.)

This book offers a beginning to a much-needed, multi-faceted debate over how we as Americans ought to improve our government. For example, all legal arguments aside, what ought the Constitution to be if we could rewrite it? As the editor Donald Livingston points out, "The American Union of States is not and never was intended to be an end in itself." The end is good government promoting human happiness and excellence.

How do we best achieve this? These essays offer a variety of ideas all centered around a less-taboo-by-the-day concept -- splitting up the American Union. The concept itself is supported by many facts the different essays offer (e.g., the current ratios of representatives to constituents, the still-large size of even fractions of the current Union), and the ideas are wide in their scope (e.g., a large scale republic as envisioned by David Hume, a state-by-state approach currently finding traction in Vermont, the reawakening of 10th Amendment interests).

As the national debt spirals out of control in the near future, where interest payments alone will swallow the budget, alternative solutions to those offered by mainstream Republicans and Democrats in Washington will be essential. This book gets that discussion started. Those who are looking for fresh ideas will not be disappointed.
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