The Revolution: Reviewed
Glenn Reynolds reviews Ron Paul’s The Revolution: A Manifesto:
The main shortcoming in Paul’s book, as with his candidacy, is in the follow through, the transition from critique to action. Although he does include a chapter entitled “The Revolution,” about reducing the size of government, it’s a pretty skimpy plan. Were we to see a Ron Paul Administration, with a House and Senate made up of, well, Ron Pauls, it might have a chance of succeeding, though even so he’s a bit timid in places – proposing a freeze on the budgets of cabinet departments instead of their outright abolition, for example, despite noting that only State, Defense, and Justice have clear constitutional mandates. But given the unlikelihood of a Paul Administration, and the even greater unlikelihood of a Paul Congress, his policy prescriptions aren’t likely to bear fruit. But those who want to see liberty progress right here and right now will look in vain for suggestions on what they might do, right here and right now, to make progress.
Rome didn’t fall in a day, and today’s monster government didn’t spring up overnight. It was the result of incremental expansion. Given that we’re not likely to see an opportunity to downsize the federal government overnight, or even in a single Presidential term, those of libertarian inclinations might well look to incremental approaches to reining in Big Government. They will be well advised, however, to look elsewhere than Revolution: A Manifesto. Still, if Fabian Libertarianism is to have a future, it will owe much to the consciousness-raising of the Paul campaign. Socialist candidate Eugene Debs, after all, never got elected President either, but within a few decades much of his platform was adopted by the Democratic Party. May Paul enjoy similar influence on the future of national politics.
Reynolds also points out the difference between Paul and those libertarian Republicans who did not rally to his cause:
Paul and I are both libertarians, but of different varieties. Paul is an old-fashioned Rothbardian. I’m more of a Heinleinian libertarian and we, like the Randian libertarians, tend to view national defense as more important than the Rothbardians do. Paul’s view, essentially, is that if we quit sending troops abroad, other people and countries would quit wanting to kill us. I’m not particularly persuaded by this. First, even during the minimal-government era of Thomas Jefferson we wound up at war with the Barbary Pirates (in many ways, the spiritual antecedents of today’s Islamic terrorists). And second, Paul is not an isolationist – he favors much more commercial and cultural engagement with foreign countries, something which, if experience is any guide, is as likely to anger Islamic fundamentalists and other varieties of terrorists and tyrants as is the establishment of foreign bases.
All in all, though, it is a fairly positive review, even though I probably agree more with Reynolds on foreign policy than I do with Paul.
I’ve got my own copy on the way from Amazon at some point this month — thanks to an apparent “book bomb” by his supporters, Paul’s book is currently on back order — and I’ll have a review of my own up after I’ve read it.