Just in time for Christmas, Bill Kauffman --author of Aint My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism and countless articles-- has a new book out. The title alone makes one stroke his chin and nod his head: Bye Bye, Miss American Empire: Neighborhood Patriots, Backcountry Rebels, and Their Underdog Crusades to Redraw America’s Political Map.
Kauffman is a writer who, like many who tell the truth and reject the American welfare-warfare state, is incredibly under-appreciated. He is witty, articulate, funny, piercing, and is always shooting arrows at statist and corporatist targets. I don't always agree with him, but he represents a conservatism of the Old Right tradition, of localism, decentralized government, and a fondness for the "little platoons" of society; small is beautiful. It is a shame that libertarianish conservatives like him have been replaced by the David Frums and Sean Hannitys, who love the state as long as it's in Republican hands.
I'm looking forward to reading it. Eventually, at least, since my tax-slave budget requires a lot of frugality. And after reading the Front Porch Republic's review of the book, I think I can already recommend it. Here's a snippet:
This is a book about secession. A little of the past, a lot of the present, a dash of hoped-for future. If nullification—the topic of Tom Woods’ new book—is a tough sell to the realistic-minded, secession is much more so. To his credit, Bill admits this: “Yeah, sure, I know: Breaking away is impossible. Quixotic. Hopeless. So was dancing on the Berlin Wall.” He’s got a point. No one saw that one coming. But one near-impossibility becoming reality is not necessarily the harbinger of another occurrence.
Still, the unsustainability of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may bode ill for our own imperial union. As Bill puts it, “You can’t bloat a modest republic into a crapulent empire without sparking one hell of a centrifugal reaction.” Yes, but don’t underestimate the power of bread and circuses. The Roman Empire lasted for 500 years. Perhaps the Kremlin paid too little attention to buying off the poor and entertaining the masses. In America, we have welfare for everyone—poor, middling, and wealthy. Financial dependence, and its attendant co-optation, is an equal opportunity federal project. Hollywood and Madison Avenue numb what can’t be bought.
So I don’t know about the prospects of secession. When decentralists begin to fill arenas and stadiums instead of hotel conference rooms and public library meeting rooms, then we will know that something major is afoot. One of the things I like about Bill Kauffman is his indefatigability in the face of stiff odds. He exudes a cheery optimism in regard to lost causes—which seem to be most of his causes. He, veteran of the Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader campaigns. The lover of small towns, obscure statesmen, and intellectual railway stations long abandoned by the mighty train of Progress.