UPDATE: See Thomas DiLorenzo’s Mises Daily Article on this class and its topic.
“It is a very significant fact that the adversaries of the trend toward more government control describe their opposition as a fight against Washington and Berne, i.e., against centralization. It is conceived as a contest of states’ rights versus the central power.”
Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government
Most people who advocate a more limited, constitutional government concentrate their efforts on electing people to public office who share their views. This can be thought of as a “horizontal” view of politics, namely, that there is a left/right ideological continuum, with the far left representing totalitarian government, and the far right representing a voluntary society with no government. The goal of libertarians under this scenario is to elect like-minded people to public office who promise to nudge public policy to the right.
An alternative viewpoint is what one might think of as a “vertical” view of politics that focuses on the devolution of power away from the central government in Washington, which by definition transfers decision-making powers to the people as individuals or as political communities at the state and local levels. This is the essence of the American “states’ rights” tradition, also known as “federalism.” It is the basis of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which Thomas Jefferson believed was the cornerstone of the entire document. It is also the one unique American contribution to political philosophy, historian Forrest McDonald wrote in his book, States’ Rights and the Union. Ironically, says McDonald, this tradition has benefited other countries of the world in their attempts to restrain the relentless growth of the Leviathan State, but has been all but abandoned in America.
The purpose of this four-week Mises Academy course is to introduce to students some of the key ideas about federalism or states’ rights; how they were intended – and have been used – to battle government tyranny; and why the worst political tyrants in world history have always been their mortal enemies.
Week 1: The Jeffersonian States’ Rights Tradition
Thomas DiLorenzo, “Constitutional Futility” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government (http://www.constitution.org/
Thomas DiLorenzo, “Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
Thomas Jefferson, “The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798″ (http://www.constitution.org/
Week 2: Nullification
William J. Watkins, “The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions: Guideposts of Limited Government” (http://www.
Clyde Wilson, “Jefferson and Nullification” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
Clyde Wilson, “Q & A on Nullification and Interposition” (http://www.
Week 3: The American Secessionist Tradition
Donald Livingston, “The Secession Tradition in America,” in David Gordon, editor, Secession, State and Liberty (http://www.ditext.com/
Thomas DiLorenzo, “Yankee Confederates: New England Secession Movements Prior to the War between the States” (http://ditext.com/dilorenzo/
Thomas DiLorenzo, “Happy Secession Day” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
Week 4: Enemies of States Rights and Limited Government
Thomas DiLorenzo, “Doomed from the Start: The Myth of Limited Constitutional Government in America” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
Thomas DiLorenzo, “The Founding Father of Constitutional Subversion” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
Thomas DiLorenzo, “Lincolnite Totalitarians” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
Thomas DiLorenzo, “Jaffa’s Hitlerian Defense of Lincoln” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/
The video lectures are online. Lectures will be Thursday evenings, 7:30 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time. They will be recorded and made available for enrolled students to download.
All readings for the course will be free and available online.
Grades and Certificates
The final grade will depend on quizzes. Taking the course for a grade is optional. This course is worth 3 credits in our own internal system. Feel free to ask your school to accept Mises Academy credits. You will receive a digital Certificate of Completion for this course if you take it for a grade, and a Certificate of Participation if you take it on a paid-audit basis.
If you drop the course during its first week (7 calendar days), you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 processing fee. If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund. No refunds will be granted following the second week.