Crisis and Liberty

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The state causes
a crisis and who wins in the end? If history is our test, the state
wins. Looking through the lens of the history of crisis, we can
see that state takes a giant leap in power and never rolls back
to its former self after it is over.

Proving this
point is Robert Higgs, who wrote the classic work on the subject:
Crisis
and Leviathan
. Higgs’s thesis is so compelling that it has
become the dominant paradigm for understanding the so-called ratchet
effect. This book is absolutely essential for anyone who seeks to
understand the dynamics of government growth and the loss of liberty.
It is a book to understand in the coming days as we see the state
volunteer itself to "solve" the very problem it created.
This book was written before 9-11 but it was cited as the work that
explains what happened after. Since those days, he has come out
with three wonderful books applying the concept to our current times,
and, in more detail to World War II.


 

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The
Resurgence of the Warfare State
paints a bleak picture,
showing how America’s political leaders in the name of crisis management
have discarded many of the checks and balances created to thwart
potential abuses of government power, spent additional billions
of dollars on programs unrelated to national security, trampled
civil liberties and due process at home, and pursued reckless military
adventures that have needlessly killed thousands of innocents abroad.
This collection of articles covers airport security, the costs of
war, the decline of civil liberties, the lies of empire, the militarization
of government, fiscal explosion, the nature of the military bureaucracy,
and more.

 

 

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Against
Leviathan
shows why all these trends must be resisted. It
combines an economist’s analytical scrutiny, an historian’s respect
for the facts, and a refusal to accept the standard excuses and
cruelties of government officialdom. Topics include Social Security,
the paternalism of the FDA, the "War on Drugs," the nature
of political leadership, civil liberties, the conduct of the national
surveillance state, and governmental responses to a continuing stream
of "crises," including domestic economic busts and foreign
wars both hot and cold.


 

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Depression,
War, and Cold War
is a book that scholars must contend with,
for he shows that almost everything we think we know about these
periods is wrong. He shows that the official statistics are little
more than fiction. He proves that the level of corruption in the
warfare state is egregious. He shows that the liberty and property
taken from you in the name of "security" is just as objectionable
as that taken in the name of "social welfare."

 

 

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Higgs is also
a wonderful teacher in audio format. His course-long lecture series
on these topics is available in tape
and MP3
CD
.

March
22, 2008

Robert
Higgs [send him mail] is
senior fellow in political economy at the Independent
Institute
and editor of The
Independent Review
. He is also a columnist for LewRockwell.com.
His most recent book is Neither
Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government
.
He is also the author of Depression,
War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy
, Resurgence
of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11
and Against
Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society
.

Robert
Higgs Archives

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