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Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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This book is intended for rapidly imploding contemporary America, and could serve as some sort of ideological foundation for next 10 years to organize a political revamping of GOP which is in its death throes. It deals with Paul's unique approach as a conservative libertarian.
Surprisingly, the word libertarian has been mentioned only 6 times, whereas the word moral appears a good 109 times.
The writing appears to be universal in its appeal so that an Asian or African can also relate to part of its contents. Its main focus is on freedom, which together with diversity and harmony, forms the three principles of humanity.
The book is tabulated in 50 chapters and covers 5 principal themes.
1. Individual vs State: Chapters on Capital Punishment, Civil Disobedience, Public Land, Surveillance and Slavery deal with Paul's view of Washington DC's crack-down on "personal" liberty. Paul claims that Washington DC is violating personal and property rights of American people. Matters are at the tipping point so that in near future Americans will lose all remaining freedoms. However, he does not provide any timeline.
2. Foreign policy: Chapters on Assassinations, CIA, Conscription, Empire, Foreign Aid, Patriotism, Security, Terrorism, Trade Policies and Zionism. Paul claims that Washington DC's foreign policy is costing Americans in blood and treasure. These policies are advanced by neoconservatives, whose founders were Leo Strauss and Irving Kristol. But its executive roots lay in Wilson's presidency, who preceded Strauss & Kristol! Paul's prescription for Arab-Israeli conflict is Intermarriage, not war. But if the Congress declares war, would a non-interventionist Paul execute it as President? Further, if America withdraws, will terrorists stop attacking? If I (America) burn my neighbor's (Iraq/Afg) house and then withdraw and say sorry, will my neighbor drop the idea of bloody revenge? Unlikely.
3. Welfarism/ State Socialism: Chapters on Bipartisanship, Executive Power, Four Freedoms, Gun Control, Immigration, Insurance, Lobbying, Medical Care, Moral Hazard, Morality in Government, Prohibition, Public Land, Statistics and Unions. These chapters deal with centralization of power over individuals, families, towns and States. These chapters offer a grave warning to reader that charity and philanthropy is being replaced with government programs. Regrettably, Paul is crying in the wilderness for the noble concept of Tithe, which used to be customary in a bygone era. A revival of Tithe is the humane alternative to State Welfarism, so that the bottom 10%, the ones who have been left behind, can be helped.
4. Monetary/Economic Policy: Taxes, Monetary Policy, Keynesianism, Business cycle and Austrian Economics deal with the economic policy, monetary policy and Paul's pet topic, the Federal Reserve. Paul claims that Keynesianism confiscates all wealth from the poor, middle class, and the "justly" rich - to what he pejoratively describes as the "Goldman Sachs Elite". According to Paul, the Federal Reserve is more powerful than the Presidency. But if central banking and Keynesianism is so bad, how come Japan, China, Korea became so rich so quickly? Japanese, Koreans enjoy the longest life spans, the largest middle class. Keynesian Japan is the largest international creditor, and its huge public debt is almost all held by Japanese people, not foreigners. How is US different than Japan, Korea, China?
5. Moral Decline: Chapters on Abortion, Demagogues, Discrimination, Education, Envy, Evolution, Global warming, hate crimes, marriage, political correctness, racism, religion and liberty. Paul claims that organized special interests claim wealth, territory and power at the expense of unorganized (libertarian?) groups. He decries government imposed affirmative action and claims that it harms American people. But in Japan, Korea, Israel that's not the case. The State enforces the ethnic interests of the majority.
Paul warns that the ultimate goal of State Socialism is to transform Americans into helpless, subservient and docile cattle in the name of equality so that the 99% masses will toil, while the Washington/Wall-Street elite will enjoy. The book has some personal anecdotes and the reader gets a glimpse of some events from Paul's life.
Throughout the book Paul tries to convince that Golden Rule is wonderful. He cites passages from Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity in support of Golden Rule. On paper its appeal is undeniable. But 2600 years of Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism did not make China, India more peaceful. Indians invaded Malaya in 11th CE, Central Asia in 8th CE. Lower caste and outcaste Indians are still brutally oppressed. China invaded Vietnam, Korea, Central Asia many times. Middle East has been a cesspool of war and invasions since the dawn of time. Just look at the history of Europe under North Africans, Arabs, Turks, Persians...
Paul invokes George Orwell's 1984 several times to assert that this is where America is now. Towards the end, this book calls for character and action to save the "Republic". Not "utter cynicism", "endless policy details" and resignation.
In the age of 24/7 TV, sexualized culture, pleasure seeking "me me me" individualism, the capacity to achieve political success required to rejuvenate or even save a Third World America is just not there. Since libertarians are at the one end of individualism/collectivism scale, how do they plan to stick together "collectively" for decades until their libertarian dreams come true? Isn't Libertarian party a kind of collective?
But Ron Paul is more interested in being right than he is in being president. Perhaps the only truly reluctant presidential candidate since George Washington, his primary aim is to educate. And he does it in the way of the Ancient Greek teacher; by challenging the untested points of his students' preconceptions, so that they come to the answers themselves.
One of the most interesting chapters in Liberty Defined relates to the obstacle Paul confronts in his aim to educate: demagogues who "manipulate a political issue in a manner to obscure or distort truth with emotionalism and prejudice...to take a principled stand by the proponents of liberty and reason and turn it into support for something ugly and mean."
As one illustration, Paul indirectly addresses the uproar his son, Senator Rand Paul, faced during his 2010 campaign when he suggested that business owners had the right to pick and choose their customers. "What liberal authoritarians don't quite understand," Paul writes "is that, if government has the power to control business establishments and all their decisions, they have justified the intrusion of government in every social aspect of our lives."
Though leaving specifics alone with respect to the Rand Paul controversy, there are enough personal anecdotes in Liberty Defined to satiate those waiting for a Ron Paul autobiography. In "Democracy," he discusses his experience with a stolen election. In "Evolution versus Creation" he recounts how he felt in a debate moderated by Chris Matthews and John Harris when asked to raise his hand if he believed in evolution. And in "Empire" we learn what quote is contained on a laminated card Paul carries with him and the story behind it.
If there is one thing in Liberty Defined that could put Paul at the center of a debate at the start of the 2012 presidential campaign, it is his remarks on civil disobedience. Though he has chosen political action over civil disobedience, he has great respect for those who, understanding what is at stake, challenge laws non-violently, and envisions a day when civil disobedience is the only option.
But to really compete in the Republican primary, Ron Paul needs to present a comprehensive agenda. The majority of journalists and political pundits view libertarian ideas as impractical. For those with a textbook to test paper view of history, libertarianism is a great unknown. Paul would do well, therefore, should he make the decision to run, to go beyond what other candidates offer in the way of details.
Ron Paul's greatest trait is his authenticity. When he sounds optimistic it is because he is feeling so. When he questions whether politics can change things, he does not hide it. You can trust what he says. For this, many philosophical differences are forgiven. His admission that civil disobedience might be the only option suggests a growing pessimism.
In perhaps the most revealing part of the book, Paul tells the story of Cicero, who "heroically refused to join Julius Caesar's betrayal of the Roman constitution and the rule of law." When Caesar was crowned dictator, Cicero wrote a series of books on history and politics and war. "Cicero," Paul writes, "would have been remembered for what he did to save the Roman constitution and the Republic. But his legacy was sealed for more than 2000 years by his philosophic dissertations that, once it was clear to him that the Roman Republic was dead, sprang from his effort to reflect on it."
But Liberty Defined was penned before the recent uprising in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations. These pro-freedom movements demonstrate that the poorer people grow the more likely they are to revolt.
The price increases that ignited rebellion overseas are starting to be seen in the United States. While prices are rising, wages remain flat. Economists, meanwhile, are using nominal percentage gains in GDP to say that the U.S. economy is growing. Americans are growing poorer and they are being lied to. They are ready to hear a real libertarian agenda. Ron Paul is the person to offer it.
What I find most staggering about this new book is that Dr. Paul, a Congressman, surprises everyone by openly and honestly stating his views on 50 separate topics. A lot of these topics are controversial and a representative in the Congress would need strong determination in order to address these topics. By offering his views on these controversial issues, Dr. Paul makes himself incredibly vulnerable to any and all political attacks.
I am consistently impressed by Dr. Paul's resolve, courage and honest dialogs. He initiates a debate that goes well beyond the political punditry and dives straight into the philosophy of the issues.
Well done, Dr. Paul. Well done.