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The Revolution: A Manifesto Paperback – September 24, 2009
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The Revolution: A Manifesto (paperback) by Ron Paul 2009 From Publishers Weekly Congressman, Republican Presidential candidate and author Paul (A Foreign Policy of Freedom) says "Let the revolution begin" with this libertarian plea for a return to "the principles of our Founding Fathers: liberty, self-government, the Constitution, and a noninterventionist foreign policy." Specific examples demonstrate how far U.S. law has strayed from this path, particularly over the past century, as well as Paul's firm grasp of history and dedication to meaningful debate: "it is revolutionary to ask whether we need troops in 130 countries... whether the accumulation of more and more power in Washington has been good for us...to ask fundamental questions about privacy, police-state measures, taxation, social policy." Though he can rant, Paul is informative and impassioned, giving readers of any political bent food for thought. With harsh words for both Democrats and Republicans, and especially George W. Bush, Paul's no-nonsense text questions the "imperialist" foreign policy that's led to the war in Iraq ("one of the most ill considered, poorly planned, and... unnecessary military conflicts in American history"), the economic situation and rampant federalism treading on states' rights and identities ("The Founding Fathers did not intend for every American neighborhood to be exactly the same"). Though his policy suggestions can seem extreme, Paul's book gives new life to old debates.
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The first chapter, "The False Choices of American Politics," demonstrates why those Ron Paul supporters who do understand his message cannot bring themselves to vote for either McCain or Hillary/Obama, or even to really care who among them wins: There is very little (if any) substantive difference between them. They may disagree about when and where to use foreign intervention, but never over whether it should be used at all. They may disagree over how fast interest rates should be cut by the Fed, but never over whether the Fed should exist. You get the idea.
Chapters 2 and 3 are titled "The Foreign Policy of the Founding Fathers" and "The Constitution," respectively. Here Dr. Paul challenges his neocon and liberal opponents to openly condemn the wisdom of the founding fathers, which they do with their actions, or else follow it. The framers of the Constitution were far from unanimous -- there were bitter disputes among so-called "Federalists" (Hamiltonian nationalists) and "republicans" (Jeffersonian decentralists) -- but today's neocon/liberals reject the wisdom of both parties, taking an expansive view of their powers that even Hamilton himself would have seen as excessive.
Chapter 4, "Economic Freedom," may be an eye-opening one for many readers. First, there are the liberals who were attracted to Dr. Paul's campaign, who may for the first time be presented with a contrast between the true Austro-Jeffersonian libertarian brand of capitalism and the inflationist, Kudlow & Company / Forbes magazine variety. Secondly there are many "paleoconservatives" I met who supported Dr. Paul but were under the mistaken impression that he was against free trade -- nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, as Dr. Paul points out here, he is 100% in favor of unilateral, unconditional free trade and 100% against quotas, sanctions, embargoes, duties, and protective tariffs. He does oppose phony "free-trade" deals like NAFTA and the WTO (joining many liberal Democrats in doing so, but for different reasons) not because they "steal American jobs" (they don't), but because they limit trade too greatly. Furthermore, they erode constitutional sovereignty and work for the benefit of politically connected elites, something with which libertarians, paleocons, and liberals can all agree.
All three constituencies will also cheer Chapter 5, "Civil Liberties and Personal Freedom." Here the contrast between Jeffersonian libertarianism (once considered "liberalism" before that philosophy was given a bad name in the early twentieth century) and the so-called "conservatism" of the neocons and post-WWII New Rightists is perhaps at its greatest. Ron Paul supports the Constitution and the limits it places on government -- which makes him a "blame America" leftist among the neocon punditry, all apologists for the liberal Wilson/FDR/Truman/LBJ foreign policy, by the way.
But the best and most important chapter, without a doubt, is Chapter 6, "Money: The Forbidden Issue in American Politics." Here Dr. Paul expertly details the operations of the Federal Reserve System in stunning clarity -- no conspiracy theories or half-truths that often further obfuscate discussion of the secretive monetary authority. The Austrian (and true) perspective on the Fed is not to be horrified that the Fed isn't a government agency (it is, even if indirectly), but to be outraged that all banks are essentially arms of the government. We don't need the government to have even more control over the money supply, we need it to have no control whatsoever (the exact opposite of what movies like FREEDOM TO FASCISM seem to suggest). What's more, Dr. Paul doesn't spread the myth that the Fed somehow profits as an entity when it creates money (its profits go to the Treasury), but instead, politically connected individuals and businesses profit at the expense of working-class and poor families. You see, the effects of inflation are not uniform -- the Fed System works as a wealth redistribution system from poor and middle-class to the rich and politically connected. How so? Buy this book and find out!
Finally, the book ends with the self-titled seventh chapter in which Dr. Paul lays out a moderate and realistic course that could be accomplished over one or two presidential terms. I'm tempted to share this blueprint for you here but I don't want to discourage anyone from buying the book. Instead, I'll use the last few words of this review to lament the fact that this blueprint will certainly not be implemented by the next president. Perhaps a young man or woman who volunteered for Ron Paul's campaign in 2008 will work his or her way up through the political establishment and be swept into office, with a like-minded Paulian Congress, sixteen years from now (just as Reagan followed sixteen years after Goldwater -- not that either of these two are to be looked at as heroes. . .). We can only hope that the Republic can endure that long!
1. The Constitution
2. Foreign Policy
3. Monetary Policy
The book starts out with the issue of Foreign Policy and advocates the United States stay out of other countries affairs. This includes staying out of their affairs militarily and also with foreign aid, but he does NOT advocate becoming isolationist. In fact, he makes very strong arguments for free trade and for diplomacy. I agree with his overall point, but he leaves a lot of questions unanswered. What if a country starts slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Jews or Tutsi? What if a powerful country unjustly attacks a weaker country? What if the rest of the world refuses to act? Dr. Paul did not provide strong (or any) answers to these types of questions.
The section of the book concerning the Constitution was excellent. However, Dr. Paul's solution as to how to restore the Constitution's original meaning, intent, and interpretation is rather weak. Although, I don't know that there are good answers.
The section on Monetary Policy was by far the weakest part of the book. As with all the other issues covered in the book, Dr. Paul is extremely good at describing the problem. His explanation of the problems inherent in the FED is very good. However, Dr. Paul advocates readopting the gold standard. Unfortunately, the gold standard has the opposite problem of our current system, the money supply shrinks in relation to a growing economy. This causes deflation, which is just as bad or worse than inflation. Would you build houses or invest in a business if it is likely that their value will decrease? The Great Depression was caused by spiraling deflation not inflation. Dr. Paul's book doesn't even address this common problem that occurs with the gold standard. There are other common problems with the gold standard as well, and Dr. Paul's book addresses none of them.
For the most part, this was a good book and I enjoyed reading it. However, it wasn't the great book I hoped it would be.