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No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority Paperback – June 12, 2012
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About the Author
Lysander Spooner was a 19th century entreprenuer, scholar, radical abolitionist, and principled believer in natural law and liberty. Lysander Spooner came form the flinty farmland of rural New England. He was born January 19, 1808, on his father's farm near Athol, Massachusetts, the second child and second son in a family of six sons and three daughters. Before opening the American Mail Company, he sent a personal letter informing the Postmaster General (January 11, 1844), that he proposed "soon to establish a letter mail [company] from Boston to Baltimore. I shall myself remain in this city, where I shall be ready at any time to answer to any suit…" Accompanying the letter was a copy of Spooner's pamphlet, The Unconstitutionality of the Laws of Congress Prohibiting Private Mails. When his company began business on January 23, Spooner openly advertised in all the major newspapers, soliciting business. The American Letter Mail Company printed its own stamps, hired agents, and was soon conducting a busy trade. Hoping to drive Spooner out of business without raising any constitutional questions, the Postmaster General resorted to some extra-legal measures. Under a barrage of harassing legal actions, the company could not survive; for all practical purposes it had ceased to exist by July 1844. After his post office venture failed, Lysander Spooner returned to the family farm in Athol. Spooner had a clear notion of "the principles of natural equity." Although lacking formal ties before 1870 with other American anarchists, Spooner knew many of them well. The key question for an anarchist is how to combine complete individual freedom with some form of effective social co-operation. Spooner answered that community service and other social action could be realized voluntarily. He argued that "under the principle of individual consent, the little government that mankind need, is not only practicable, but natural and easy…" Spooner died “at one o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday, May 14, 1887... surrounded by trunks and chests bursting with the books, manuscripts, and pamphlets which he had gathered in his active pamphleteer's warfare over half a century long.
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If you love Rousseau's "Social Contract" you will hate this book; for they are emphatically opposed.
Spooner, a rabid abolitionist, affixes his argument on the crux that not allowing the South to uncouple itself peacefully from the Union, defies all that a voluntary government and Constitution ought to be and have been. For if one cannot leave the union, it is no union at all, but slavery in and of itself.
The remainder of the book is not focused on Civil War issues. It is an interesting assessment that the Constitution is not a legitimate contract, for no populous has "signed" it or agreed to its terms. The People are offered two choices, the ballot (which is highly rigged) or the bullet. It makes men vote for themselves and against others. One man votes to take things from his neighbors. The other man votes in defense of his property.
Ultimately, money is power. The first thing governments do when their authority is denied is hire soldiers to subdue those who refuse to pay. He argues that "governments" don't really exist. At least not in the that we believe because real governments are only made up of a few people.
Of course, I had plenty of questions throughout. If he believes direct authorization from citizens is better than representatives, then I'm not sure how a nation would proceed with urgent decisions in a timely manner. He speaks against secret ballots, but at the same time Unions have proven that with open ballots, voters face intimidation and physical threat. How would/does an entire nation "sign" a contract; ie- Constitution? How would a Constitution become legitimate?
Chapter 8 is by far the most thought-provoking in the book. Spooner details the dark secrets of bankers controlling governments. He specifically calls out the Rothschilds; this is 140 years ago and there is still talk of the Rothschilds owning the world. He explains the mechanics of money-lending to nations. Rulers are ultimately held accountable to the bankers. Rulers can ascend or be deposed at the behest of the bankers. If a ruler loses credit and the investment does not bring forth the interest guaranteed; the ruler is handed over to his own people as a beggar is dismissed. In return of good investments, certain industries are allowed monopolies and unequal taxation. The burden falls to the poor and the unconnected.
Representatives are merely tools. There is no true justice. Only if the investment proves to pay off is justice then used as propaganda. Spooner explains that the North had no intentions in freeing the slaves. Since the South wouldn't bend to their market manipulations, the North in turn used the slaves against them. At the end of the day, "there was no difference of principle- but only of degree- between the slavery they boast they have abolished, and the slavery they were fighting to preserve; for all restraints upon men's liberty, not necessary for the simple maintenance of justice, are of the nature of slavery, and differ from each other only in degree."
It is a fantastically thought-provoking read. Disclaimer- if anyone can possibly pervert Spooner's views on the Civil War into being "racist" and in support of slavery; there is no word for them but dense.
Ever notice that a lot of people are so ignorant that they attribute words from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution? Or they believe that the Preamble to the Constitution is part of the Constitution, which the Supreme Court found not to be so?
Chances are at some time in your life you may have taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. If so, wouldn't it be a good idea to know what it is you're sworn to uphold and defend?
There is no clearer explanation than Lysander Spooner's classic. Read it!
It questions the validity of our Constitution by asking if any of us have actually read and signed it which is of course no, at least the signing part. This calls into question how any of us can be expected to adhere to the Constitution when in all other cases contracts have to be read and signed by both parties. As most of us don't agree with everything our government does, why should we be financially supporting it through forced taxation? While we are told we live in a free country with private property, try not paying your property taxes on your home and see how long it remains yours.
If you enjoy history of governments and how people have been ruled you'll most likely find this an interesting read. Definitely raises questions to ponder.
The two highlights of this book for me was when he compared the government to a robber and when he explained the illegitimacy of the constitution.
This is a great book not only for already established Libertarians/AnCaps, but also for those who are on the fence and need that push!
This book paired with Rothbard's Anatomy of the State make a quick but very effective argument against the state.