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What I’m reading right now

I like to read things that both support and challenge my viewpoints and inclinations. Right now I’m reading The Politics of Obedience:The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Étienne de La Boétie and A Republic, Not an Empire by Patrick Buchanan. (See, just by reading Buchanan I am challenging myself.)

Discourse is so far a very interesting look at how the public actually participates in its own slavery by consent:

I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation! Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness, their necks under the yoke…

The solution for liberty? Simply withdraw consent.

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.

It’s such a simple idea, isn’t it?

Buchanan’s book is actually surprising me a bit. When I first picked it up, I’d just finished Chalmers Johnson’s, Blowback. The first few chapters of Republic drew the characteristically cynical observation that perhaps the subject matter was, in the late 90’s a fad that never caught on. But Buchanan’s book reads thus far like a very good history book and his warnings have proven spot on. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit though that it is bringing into very sharp focus the idea that empire is inevitable in a world where democracy is championed. It just impossible to for people to vote their interests and expect otherwise and that idea was well developed in Bastiat’s, The Law.

I guess all in all, I cannot get on board with reforming the republic into a mirror image of its past. The American republic was a great experiment but with the stains of slavery and genocide, it was far from perfect. It’s a lofty goal to try to get back to the cherry picked parts of history but until it is recognized on a mass level that the slavery and genocide of the American past have simply been repackaged into a “new and improved” item that no longer discriminates based on skin color or anything other than political connections, most in this country will never know true prosperity.

And so let me now declare myself a truly pragmatic person and say that I hope whoever wins our upcoming elections bring our chains more into the light. Individual liberty may not seem like such an overstretch of imagination or wishful thinking and people may actually withdraw consent when the noose is tightened. I just won’t be participating in the process of tightening that noose by voting for any of the jokers running. Besides, I’m going to have better things to do in November- there are many more fabulous books to read.