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Who Owns America: A New Declaration of Independence

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1882926374
ISBN-10: 1882926374
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence is the classic sequel to I'll Take My Stand, the famous defense of the South's agrarian traditions. But whereas I'll Take My Stand was theoretical and sectional, Who Owns America? sought to be concrete and national, and it succeeded. The book evokes and defends in realist terms an America characterized by small-property ownership, decentralized politics, and responsible stewardship of the nation's natural resources. In 1936, the year Who Owns America? was published, reform was in the air in America. Plans to pull the country out of the devastation of the Great Depression, including Roosevelt's New Deal, abounded. But, as co-editor Herbert Agar wrote, "No country can be reformed by the people who hate it. The haters can supply useful criticism. But only those who have affection for the national ideal can persuade a people to reform." What was the national ideal, according to regionalist and decentralist writers like Allen Tate, Herbert Agar, John Crowe Ransom, Mary Shattuck Fisher, Cleanth Brooks, and Hilaire Belloc? Their answer was simple. The ideal was nothing other than the original American Dream: the majority of men should be politically and economically independent, not the dependents of either big government or big business. It was a radical statement in 1936 and remains one at the end of the twentieth century. How should a republic exercise power over its citizens? How may economic goods be justly distributed? What status should the small farm have in the life of a nation? By what means may family life be rendered stable? What is the economic role of women in a free society? These are just some of the issues raised, and answered in unique ways, in this book. Though written over sixty years ago, Who Owns America? still challenges many assumptions at play in the American public psyche and is also indispensable in understanding a crucial period of American history. As Edward S. Shapiro observes in his important and substantial new Foreword to this volume, "The urgency of the questions posed by Who Owns America? has not changed since 1936, nor has the answer. The political events of the last two decades have demonstrated the relationship between political freedom and prosperity on the one hand and the widespread distribution of property and economic and political decentralization on the other. Critics during the 1930s derided the contributors to Who Owns America? as romantics, visionaries, and utopians. In fact, the collectivists, with their faith for a better world through industrial giantism and economic and political planning, were the true utopians."

From the Back Cover

"The essays in Who Owns America? not only elaborate and clarify the critique of industrialism, corporate capitalism, and the bureaucratic state put forth in I'll Take My Stand, but defend the widespread ownership of property as the foundation for individual liberty and the morally responsible life. Professor Shapiro's fine introduction positions the book within the political, social, and economic debates of the 1930s and demonstrates its relevance to current efforts to restore private property or find its equivalent."-Mark Malvasi, author, The Unregenerate South "Who Owns America? is one of the forgotten classics of American political protest. Its power to provoke is undiminished, for Who Owns America? is a book inspired by an ideal. Its neo-Jeffersonian vision of a decentralized America-a land of small property ownership and an independent citizenry-continues to shape conservative discourse on the nature of good society. Now back in print, with an incisive Foreword by Edward Shapiro, this spirited volume invites a fresh and careful reading."-George H. Nash, author, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (December 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882926374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882926374
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Young on April 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In the late summer of 2008, many Americans were stunned to learn that their tax dollars were required to bail out large financial and insurance corporations that had become "too big to fail."

With a thorough grounding in both the free market and freedom; the authors of this book spoke presciently in 1936 in terms so timeless that their words seem as though they were written last year. Who Owns America explains this phenomenon and also how it can be fixed and avoided in the future WITHOUT resorting to statist economic models such as socialism.

In a series of essays written during the Great Depression, the authors lead the reader through a comprehensive re-thinking of economics, employeeism and priorities.

Too often, economic ideas are presented along a continuum between socialism and capitalism; with the implicit message that options along that continuum are all that is available. For the first time for many readers, this book will open the eyes and the mind to a whole new world of very worthwhile ideas that fall outside of the artificial limitations imposed by economic labels.

I recommend this book very highly to anyone who would like to REALLY understand the fundamental economic issues we are facing instead of blindly accepting the re-digested garbage from people with a current political axe to grind.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Who Owns America? is a collection of informative, challenging, iconoclastic and articulate essays on the nature of industrialism, corporate capitalism, the bureaucratic state, private property, the "good" society, and neo-Jeffersonian visions of a decentralized America. From David Cushman Coyle's "The Fallacy of Mass Production", to Frank Lawrence Owsley's "The Foundations of Democracy", to James Muir Waller's "America and Foreign Trade", to Robert Penn Warren's Literature as a Symptom", to Hilaire Belloc's "The Modern Man", these and many more observant and insightful commentaries deserve as wide a readership as possible and are highly recommended to students of American politics, economics, and history.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Setliff on September 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
~Who Owns America: A New Declaration of Independence~ are a group of agrarians and conservative thinkers with a sobering culture critique where they advance the case for decentralised politics and widespread distribution of private property! They extoled the need for vibrant regionalism within the the nation-state. They recognized that one must surely be an Ohioan, Texan or Virginian as they are an American. This book was published in 1936 as the Great Depression became more depressing. This is the classic sequel to I'll Take My Stand, but the contributors frame their critique in national terms rather than southern sectional terms. It is an anthology that is a selection of articles and essays from various agrarian and conservative writers, mostly from the South and Midwest. Moreover, the contributing authors essentially represented a cross-section of thinkers from southern conservatives to Midwestern agrarians. They have much common ground, but some differences as well. There major focus in the book was a critique of America's culture and increasingly centralized economic-political structure. They offered a prescriptive formula for a renewed America landscape and body politic. This was to be characterized by widespread ownership of private property, small-scale enterprises coupled with preservation of the American entrepreneurial spirit and a decentralised political system amenable to the people at the state and local level.

Allen Tate's 'Notes on Liberty and Property' in my estimation is the keystone of this book. Tate's essay concentrates on the correlation between political freedom and the widespread diffusion of freehold private property amongst the citizenry. Andrew Lytle's 'The Small Farm Secures the State' is also a meaningful contribution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregury Thrower on April 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a terrific book! It is amazing to me that, though published in 1935, it is virtually unknown to our citizenry. I first learned about "Who Owns America" in Ralph Nader's "Unstoppable", which I also highly recommend . Both books support the need for a practical patriotism that focuses upon solving issues. There is only one political party now, the rich Democraticans, who are interested only in collecting wealth (by way of donation and insider trading) and maintaining a seat at the table of power. The Federal and State level courts and legislatures have morphed from democratic institutions into private clubs. It would be wonderful if we could fire the "hired hands" occupying both Congress and the Supreme Court and start over; but alas, I don't believe this to be possible. We need to evolve beyond "false partisan" politics and join together to build truly democratic cities, towns and neighborhoods. Local is the new (and influenceable) city-state; one in which neighbors can share collectively in their "pursuit of happiness".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dated and reflects the typical Southern "moonlight and magnolias" longing for a past that never really existed, but still has a good analysis of big money "economists" and policies. Still has the congenital racism that has long poisoned Southern mentality. Before embracing this philosophy, it's worth remembering that Mississippi has been the poorest state for 150 years, The plantations depended on Black slaves for the White elite's wealth, and poor Whites, who did not share the mythical wealth but still bled and died (they still do) to prop up a system that was as evil as any that have ever existed in history.
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