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Essential Reading for Liberty Lovers...
on July 18, 2016
This is a wonderful, well-written book that uses plain language and clear logic to explain libertarian ideas and real world economics to ordinary people who may have never had exposure to the philosophy that was the basis for America's founding documents, or ever read anything by John Locke, Alexis de Tocqueville, Henry Hazlitt, or Murray Rothbard.
Dr. Paul wrote the book during his 2007-2008 campaign for the Republican nomination. As usual, it was designed to educate rather than get him elected and put forth some ideas that would clearly be rejected by many on both the right and left. Dr. Paul explains why the average voter must care about liberty and why the debate is not simply economic.
There are seven chapters plus a reading list that individuals who care about liberty can use as a reference that will lead them to further reading that will expand Dr. Paul's ideas and introduce new ones as well as more layers that may be useful to the skeptics.
Early in the book, in his first chapter, titled, "The False Choices of American Politics", he quotes Robert Taft:
"And when I say liberty I do not simply mean what is referred to as "free enterprise." I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and to live; the liberty of the family to decide how they wish to live, what they want to eat for breakfast and for dinner, and how they wish to spend their time; liberty of a man to develop his ideas and get other people to teach those ideas, if he can convince them that they have some value to the world; liberty of every local community to decide how its children shall be educated, how its local services shall be run, and who its local leaders shall be; liberty of a man to choose his own occupation; and liberty of a man to run his own business as he thinks it ought to be run, as long as he does not interfere with the right of other people to do the same thing."
In the same chapter, he points out that it is considered revolutionary to question the accumulation of power in Washington has been good for Americans or to ask basic questions about privacy, police-state actions, social liberty, taxation, etc. Each of these is tied to the original intent and arguments made by America's Founding Fathers. He also points out that people like him are criticized for saying exactly the same things that the Founding Fathers said.
The second chapter is titled, "The Foreign Policy of the Founding Fathers." Dr. Paul begins with Jefferson's first inaugural address, where President Jefferson called for, "Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none," and reminds us that George Washington had said essentially the same thing.
George Washington's Farewell Address
Ironically, he cites George Bush, who ran against Gore on the idea of a modest foreign policy that the Founding Fathers would have approved of and called for avoiding the nation building that was favoured by progressives. It was Bush, not Gore, who had said, "And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness." Of course, Bush rejected his own advice after 9/11 and Americans are still living with the consequences. I was particularly pleased with the emphasis that he gave to John Quincy Adams when he went beyond his often cited quote that America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. Add to that the Henry Clay quote, which I did not expect given Dr. Paul's problem with Clay on other issues and the reference to Richard Cobden, and the second chapter is worth the price of the Kindle version on its own.
Dr. Paul makes it clear that the critics of noninterventionism are hypocrites because they do not extend their argument against the policies recommended and followed by America's Founding Fathers. He also deals a fatal blow to the neocons by pointing out that 9/11 and other events have been caused by blowback from policies that they have not just supported but in many cases created.
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project)
I think that many readers who are not familiar with the concept may benefit from the discussion on the just-war tradition. Conservative Christians may particularly be interested in understanding why their position is in conflict with a Christian tradition that has been around since the fourth century.
I will not cover the other five chapters other than to say that all are worth reading very carefully. I would also take a close look at Dr. Paul's reading list because there are a number of great books on it that I have found very useful.