At the end of the series, Dr. Rothbard asks in the title of Chapter 80 of Volume IV, “Was the American Revolution Radical?” Good question. The neoconservatives, as he points out, make a claim that is far from true. That claim is that the American Revolution's purpose was to preserve British aggrandizement! How wrong can they be? I wrote an essay a few years back (1) that traced Bushite noeconservatism back to roots it shares with Marxism. Today's neoconservatives do advocate exactly what we have today under the Obama administration and had under the Bush administration before it: a top-down, bureaucracy-driven regime with a regimented mercantilist-turning-socialist economy, with civil liberties dwindling as the group gains supremacy over the individual. Wealth and power gravitate to establishment interests at a faster clip, as we have learned in other Rothbard works.
Is this what the American Revolutionaries fought and died for? A system very similar to what the British imposed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? If so, why did they even fight the war?
Let's see what Dr. Rothbard says in Volume IV, Chapter 80.
Every revolution was in reaction to state abuses. Let us take another look at the Declaration of Independence. It listed “a long train of abuses and usurpations” on the part of Britain. Yes. The Revolution was radical, meaning it got to the root of the matter, the root being an absence of freedom, mostly economic and religious freedom. Radical, in this case at least, does not mean “extreme.” Of course, from my extremely libertarian point of view, the Declaration of Independence seems very rational and down to earth, as does the Bill of Rights. They are not extreme at all. In fact, I'd make some changes in a more extreme libertarian direction, but at the end of the day, they get to the root of the matter and are therefore radical. They go right to natural, individual rights. Rights come from God and nature, and accrue to the individual. This is “what ought to be,” a guidepost, according to Lord Acton, for judging “what is.” The libertarian ideology had taken form and was tradition in America. These ideas are our roots.
Not only that, but, Dr. Rothbard said, the American Revolution “was the first successful war of national liberation against western imperialism. A people's war ... by the majority ... against constituted 'legitimate' government ... guerrilla strategy” against the traditional British army ... and we won!
Of course, there is always danger that a revolution will betray its principles. As it started out, government was mostly on the small, local level. It was years before any state governments dared to impose any taxes. Because it was often at the state level that the oligarchies had ruled, the backlash against these brought about some very libertarian state constitutions, with widening suffrage.
It was conservatives who worked hard to bring about a national government, although they did have to accept the Bill of Rights.
We seem to be back to square one. Was the war worth all the lives, injuries, and property losses? Only those who died, were injured, or lost their property can judge that. After all, the lives and property belonged to them, so they have the right to make that call.
Would it be worth it to fight it again to restore freedom? You decide. You own your life and property, so you get to judge.
As for me? Yes! Second only to my eternity, my freedom is the most important. My life comes third. I'd fight, and fight to the death if I thought it would restore freedom!
See you next spring!
(1) The Roots of Neoconservatism http://www.alicelillieandher.blogspot.com/
Go to the index on the right and click on “2006 (ii)”