Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« Spirit of '76 | Main | Thomas Jefferson & Ezra Levant on freedom of speech »

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Pierre Lemieux: The Idea of America

It's the fourth of July, and Americans are busy celebrating Independence Day. Two years ago, we commissioned Pierre Lemieux to write a monograph for us entitled "The Idea of America." The monograph is as relevant today as it was two years ago. Here's what we wrote about it then:

Americans are busy celebrating the 4th of July today, but do many of them really know what the idea of America was? What were the revolutionaries -- the signers of the Declaration, the men and women who abandoned their old ties to call America home -- doing all of this for? What was that glorious idea?

Pierre Lemieux, our firebrand libertarian columnist, has produced a monograph entitled "The Idea of America," (PDF) published by the Western Standard, to answer this and related questions. His analysis is, in my judgment, accurate and cutting. Once upon a time, Americans (and Canadians) wouldn't even think of the government when presented with a problem.

Once upon a time, no American worth her salt would ever stand for identification papers, gun control, nanny state regulations, and so on. What happened to those Americans? Maybe they lost their grip on the idea of America, and were coddled and pacified by unparalleled wealth and prosperity. Or maybe they were flummoxed by the snake-oil salesman cum politician, insisting that they could get something for nothing, or frightening them with tales of bogeymen under every bed.

"...consider the first decade of the 20th century," writes Lemieux, "[i]n general, anybody could start a business, find investors, and sell his product without any government license and oversight. There was no SEC, no IRS, no FCC, no FDA, no OSHA, no USCIS (formerly INS), no EPA. The absence of regulation did not prevent the development of vibrant capital markets, and New York City was on its way to becoming the top financial place in the world. The right to keep and bear arms, so typically American in the 20th century, had survived relatively unscathed. There was no witch-hunt and, in a legal fight between an individual and the government, it is the latter that felt handicapped. Writing in 1910, Lord Acton could confidently say that the American people are “more free than any other the world has seen.” In her celebration of American liberty in the early 20th century, Rose Wilder Lane could exclaim: “That is what Europeans meant when, after a few days in this country, they exclaimed, ‘You are so free here!’.”

Once, maybe, there was America. But what happened to that idea?

"Americans are now caught in the “network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform” that [Alexis de] Tocqueville forecasted. Virtually all activities—even those protected by the Bill of Rights—are regulated in some way, and most often in many ways. Just at the federal level, there are probably 4,000 statutes, although it’s hard to tell the exact number, notes a Wall Street Journal reporter, “because the statutes aren’t listed in one place.” And this does not include the regulations. “We continue to claim that nobody is supposed to ignore the law,” wrote French legal theorist Georges Ripert in 1949, “but those who know it are certainly to be commended.” In 2001, federal prosecutors brought more than 80,000 cases. To this must be added the laws, regulations and prosecutions at the State and local levels. It is stimated that 15 per cent of all Americans have an arrest record. France has come to America."

Read the monograph. Pass it on. It's the 4th of July, and the idea of America is still worth fighting for.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on July 4, 2010 in Libertarianism | Permalink

Comments

The corruptocrats are running everything. Those of us who have not yet, come to understand that Banksters now are running things need to question all that they believe or have believed all their life. The first step is to break your conditioning. The first step in breaking your conditioning is to turn off the TV. Second step is to look for leadership from those who see the big picture, and are capable of predicting the corruptocrats next move. I believe the Libertarian Movement is going to be the choice of Tea Party Patriots stateside from this point forward. We should expect Cdn sheeple will be waking up in greater numbers as global events become too obvious to ignore. This is a good time learn as much as we can from successful Libertarian candidates and supporters and seek to further the movement where ever possible. The future will have many people asking, how the hell could this happen? We need to be ready to answer these questions as well as we can.

Posted by: mikeg | 2010-07-04 2:38:45 PM


What happened to the link to the monograph?

Posted by: sam | 2010-07-06 10:36:35 AM



The comments to this entry are closed.