Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Revolution: A Manifesto

Back in October I received a copy of Ron Paul’s book "The Revolution: A Manifesto." I did something with it I had never done with a book before. No, not read it. I read it cover to cover twice in a row.

Usually books written in association with a presidential campaign aren’t very good. They tend to be just the written form of the meaningless sound bites that we expect from modern politics. Paul’s book is, unsurprisingly, different. Although Ron Paul sought the Republican nomination for president, philosophically he is a libertarian and has done more to advance that school of thought than any Libertarian Party candidate. The Revolution isn’t a campaign book at all, but a wide ranging dissertation on libertarian and paleo-conservative philosophy.

The first chapter is titled “The False Choices of American Politics.” Paul writes: “[E]very four years we are treated to the same tired, predictable routine: two candidates with few disagreements on fundamentals pretend that they represent dramatically different philosophies of government.” The false choice presented is, how should the government control something, not should the government control it. This chapter seemed particularly apropos after this election between statists Obama and McCain, and after a Republican president began nationalizing the banking industry like a Democrat on steroids.

Chapter 2 deals with “The Foreign Policy of the Founding Fathers.” Paul spends a good deal of time outlining the policy of “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none,” advocated by Thomas Jefferson and others. He chronicles how far we’ve strayed from that advice and how our intervention in other nations has made us a target for terrorists while draining our treasury.

The third chapter deals with the constitution and how much the federal government has slipped loose from its constraints. Paul again quotes Jefferson, who wrote in 1798, “Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism. Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence… In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Paul urges us to “rally and recall our people to the Constitution, the rule of law, and our traditional American republic.”

Chapter 4 expounds upon “Economic Freedom.” He details his thoughts on government waste and spending (but I repeat myself), taxes, and regulation of private markets. In Chapter 5, “Civil Liberties and Personal Freedom,” he deals with privacy rights and other civil protections that have been buffeted by the “wars” on terror and drugs. Writes Paul: “Freedom means not only that our economic activity ought to be free and voluntary, but that government should stay out of our personal affairs as well. […] Economic freedom and personal liberty are not divisible.” This flies in the face of conservatives and liberals that want one but not the other, conservatives wanting only the former and liberals wanting only the latter.

The sixth chapter deals with Paul’s true passion: “Money: The Forbidden Issue in American Politics.” Here Paul chronicles America’s monetary policy and how it creates inflation, encourages debt and government spending, and causes the economic “bubbles” that seem to be bursting everywhere lately. Chief among Paul’s concerns is the Federal Reserve, which orchestrates all of the above. To remedy our problems, Paul advises abolishing the Federal Reserve and returning the dollar to the gold standard.

In the final chapter, “The Revolution,” Paul explains what can be done to peacefully implement the points he raised in the previous chapters.

If you’re at all interested in understanding libertarian ideas, you should read "The Revolution: A Manifesto." It touches on just about every subject of importance and is an easy, enjoyable read. It’s available at the Campaign For Liberty Store online, and anywhere else books are sold.


  1. My copy is autographed. Nyah-nyah!

    I know it's a good book, but I can't seem to get all the way through it. Every time I try, I compare what government is supposed to do versus what it is actually doing and I get depressed. I will have to try again after your reccomendation. If I can make it through "Atlas Shrugged" I can make it through anything.

  2. I'm probably the only libertarian in the world that's never read "Atlas Shrugged." I should though.

    Right now I'm working on "Economics In One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt. It's also very good so far. Expect a review on that as well.

  3. Nope, Ben, I haven't read "Atlas Shrugged" yet either. I hear they're making a movie about it though, so I plan on picking it up before then.


  4. Oh good! I don't feel so bad now, Jeff. I really like your site over there at Liberty Advocates. Good to seem some capitalist rebels in academia.


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