UntitledThe purpose of this blog is to provide objective running commentary on the U.S. Constitution and its relationship to political events.  By “objective,” I mean analysis predicated on the assumption that, as the product of flawed and imperfect individuals, the Constitution is itself flawed and imperfect itself.  This may not sound terribly earth shaking.  But pundits who assume that the Constitution is perfect or indestructible invariably wind up being incurious as to its real workings.  They figure that there’s no point challenging a document that is more durable than the Rock of Gibraltar.  There is no point criticizing it or even attempting to explore its internal contradictions because the ship of state will continuing steaming forward regardless, serenely indifferent to the mutterings of mere mortals.

But if one assumes the opposite, then all bets are off.  If the Constitution is essentially flawed and limited, then it is limited in duration.  The system it  engendered has a beginning, middle, and end, i.e. it is born, it flourishes, and then it enters into a period of prolonged senescence and decay.  Criticism not only becomes permissible but downright mandatory since it is only by analyzing the document’s many quirks and contradictions than we can begin to understand how it has grown and developed and where it is heading.

This is something that very few people in this country bother to do.  Yet it has never seemed more relevant due to the mounting stresses on the system as a whole.  After some two and a quarter centuries, the constitutional structure could not be more sclerotic.  Congress is incompetent and corrupt, its collective IQ sinking by the minute.  Due process is being narrowed and entire categories are now exempt from habeas corpus, most notably “illegal combatants” arrested as part of the Global War on Terror.  Provisions that were supposed to safeguard liberty do the opposite.  Debate is still permissible except when it touches on terrorism.  Americans can speak as freely as they wish except that they now “need to watch what they say, watch what they do,” as White House spokesman Ari Fleischer put it shortly after 9/11.  If the Constitution for the moment precludes state censorship, it mandates self-censorship instead, which is far more effective.

The point, therefore, is to show how the economic and political crisis is leading to a deepening constitutional crisis as well.  Americans don’t want authoritarianism — to the contrary, they want democracy and progress on the many problems that afflict their society.  But because democracy is receding, authoritarianism is what they are going to get.  After Afghanistan and Iraq, they are in no mood for another war in the Middle East.  But as the Syrian conflagration widens, war is what they are likely to get.  Pundits will point their fingers at Muslims, Russia, or the liberals when the real culprit is the mounting incompetence in Washington.  If the conflict continues to expand, and I don’t see who it can do otherwise, then the domestic ramifications are not likely to be very pleasant.

Government of, by, and for the people has thus turned into a mammoth enterprise that is running increasingly amuck.

About Dan Lazare…

He is a journalist and author of three books:

9780151000852_p0_v1_s114x166The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace, 1996).

Reviews: The New York Times (Feb. 4, 1996), Washington Post, Boston University Law Review (December 1996), Washington Monthly (April 1996), The Nation, Transatlantica (January 2003).

Articles about: Harper’s (March 1996), American Prospect (June 18, 2002).

Comments pro and con:

  • …his almost Jacobin picture … is scarcely the only, and certainly not the most attractive, alternative to what I readily concede is a frozen republic where ‘the Constitution is paralyzing democracy.’”   Sanford Levinson, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct It) (Oxford, 2006).
  • “Pathbreaking.”  Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker, July 29, 2002.

Velvet CoupThe Velvet Coup: The Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy (Verso, 2001).

Reviews: Political Science Quarterly (June 2002).

9780151005529_p0_v1_s114x166America’s Undeclared War: What’s Killing Our Cities and How We Can Stop It (Harcourt 2001).

Reviews: Business Week (May 6, 2001), American Prospect (June 18, 2001), The New Yorker (June 4, 2001), East Bay Express (Nov. 21, 2001), Sierran (September 2001).

33 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. I just discovered your blog through a piece on the Boston Review reviewing David Cay Johnston’s new book Divided. I have read your excellent books and am so glad to learn of your blog as you have so much to teach. Thanks very much for all you do for us.

  2. I read several of your books around the time that they came out, and, having seen your latest feature on Aeon.co, was glad to see you are now authoring a public blog. I will look forward to catching up and reading any future articles.

  3. Pingback: Politicians Say The Darndest Things | Skeptical Analysis

  4. Daniel, I just read you piece in ConsortiumNews.com, “The Scheme to Take Down Trump” which is easily the most strait forward assessment printed anywhere regarding the bizarre events of last week. I would add the adjective “insightful” as a further accolade (often deserving for the content of your writing), except in this case the utter transparency of the intelligence cabal’s bungling scarcely requires much “insight” (which of course begs the question how the NYT, Guardian, et al are able to sustain their blindness). I think we can reasonably attribute the bungling to arrogance, rather than lack of forethought, however cobbled together and hasty the pre-Inaugural scheme was. I wrote a satirical piece (“Obituary: Donald Trump”) back in April suggesting that Plan A would be to take out Trump before the Republican Convention. Presumably the military industrial/intelligence cabal’s confidence in cold-war-building continuity was restored with the prior DNC installation of Clinton…arrogance restored! Possibly these seasoned regime changing geniuses spent the lead up to Nov 11th relaxing in front of the tube watching Saturday Night Live. Ooops! Back to Plan A. I wonder what the rationale for the hit will be…perhaps “Putin terminates blown Siberian Candidate asset.” They are probably already setting the type at the NYT and Guardian, and Wolf Blitzer is practicing the line with a straight face.
    If anyone is interested in Plan A have a look at http://cclum.net/blog.

  5. Hi:

    I am actually a retired epidemiologist; but throughout my life have devoted a lot of free time to reading on other subjects, e.g. American history, Comparative Religions, etc.

    I just read your article on the 2nd Amendment in Jacobin, “We the People” and the
    Lone Gunman.” Interesting; but several points:

    1. A quote attributed to both Presidents and Justices: “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.”
    2. “The right to bear arms”. “Bear arms” is used exclusively in military terms. If one took it literally, individuals would have the right to own surface-to-air missiles, bazookas, flame throwers, chemical, biological, and tactical nukes, all part of the “arms” race.
    3. U.S. Constitution Article 1 Section 8:
    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
    So, those who believe they can “bear” arms in order to resist the government, how should one interpret that the government can call up the militia to suppress insurrections?
    I believe it was assumed in the writing and can be found in diaries of the Founders that given the new government was to be a “democracy” that disagreements would be decided by the vote. Remember that Washington as President led the troops against the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax revolt.
    4. Even during Colonial times there were laws/regulations that one could NOT store gunpowder in certain places, etc. I could probably find references if necessary.
    5. And, though amending the Constitution is almost impossible, relying on something written over 200 years ago by a few White men, living in a mainly rural society, with single shot inaccurate weapons that often wouldn’t even work if powder got wet, insane. What would they have thought if one weapon, e.g. AK 47, could kill dozens of people before they could even react? I remind you that in your book “The Frozen Constitution” it took only 650,000 lives and equal crippled for just one amendment, ending the 3/5th clause.
    6. Though not relevant directly to your article, Australia passed gun control laws under a Conservative Prime Minister and gun violence has diminished significantly, despite lies by gun rights groups. And Canada, a nation with a higher percentage of foreign born than the US, has 1/3 the murder rate, mainly attributed to NOT having a 2nd Amendment. Besides the right to bear arms, what about the rights of those innocent people to life who were killed in Las Vegas. What about Trayvon Martin? What about the Japanese exchange student trick-or-treating in Louisiana? There is an old saying the “your rights end at my nose.”

    I also found part of your review of Shlomo Sand’s book: The Invention of the Jewish People. I would love to read it and the following commentary; but don’t wish to subscribe to the London Review of Books just for one article. I checked and neither local university library nor public library subscribe to it.

    • Joel: Thanks for your comments. I agree with everything you say, but the point is that the Second Amendment, and the Constitution in general, impose a stranglehold that is virtually unbreakable short of revolution. The Constitution shouldn’t be a suicide pact. Yet that’s precisely what it’s turning out to be as society collapses under the strain. The bus is hurtling over a cliff, yet “we the people” remain frozen at the wheel. You’re also right that the Founders never anticipated bazookas, AK-47s, and the like. But while it’s possible that the courts could find a way to regulate such weapons on public safety grounds, the amendment creates a very strong presumption against any such move. After all, liberals opposing free speech on public-safety grounds — e.g. when an incendiary newspaper triggers a major public disturbance — so why should conservatives be any less reluctant to limit gun rights on the same basis? The point is that this is an unholy mess that the current constitutional apparatus is incapable of fixing.

      • Hi:

        I agree with you 100%. Many of the Founding Fathers were highly intelligent;
        but so were doctors in the Middle Ages and Colonial America who believed in
        the four humors approach to medicine. They were bound by their time and culture and the Constitution was not even then some ideal document; but a Compromise. As you know, the 3/5th clause and slavery were considered by some to be a “deal with the Devil.” And we are headed over the cliff. However, my major fear is given the level of ignorance of the average American, how easily manipulated they are, how polarized we are, a new Constitutional Convention could end up even worse. It isn’t just “the current constitutional apparatus” as Ben Franklin said (paraphrasing), “regardless of the form of government, men of good will will create a good government and others won’t.” Many of our politicians are mainly bought and paid for, others pander to whatever they think will get them elected, and many are locked in ideologies devoid of a real understanding of where they come from and what holding to them has for consequences. Antivaccinationists voted for Trump. One of their unscientific beliefs are that thimerosal (ethylmercury used as preservative in vaccines) causes autism, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So, Trump appears anti vaccine; but he is reducing regulations of emissions of methyl mercury from coal burning plants. Methyl mercury much more toxic than ethyl mercury and instead of minute amounts currently only in flu vaccines, given once a year, pregnant women and children will be exposed to the more toxic mercury every single day.

        And even the parts of the Constitution that are positive have been ignored by our Courts. Check out Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow”, how our Courts have basically thrown out most of the Bill of Rights and the 13th Amendment and have allowed abusing the “convicted” clause: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The book describes Dantes inferno on Earth, totally negating any concept of justice or human decency found in the American narrative myth. I also suggest you read the following on the 2nd Amendment:

        Keith A. Herman & Dennis A. Henigan (1989 Fall). The Second Amendment in the Twentieth Century: Have You Seen Your Militia Lately? University of Dayton Law Review; 15(1).

        Carl T. Bogus (1998 Winter). The Hidden History of the Second Amendment. U.C. David Law Review; 31(2).

        Garry Wills (1995 Sep 21). To Keep and Bear Arms. The New York Review of Books.

        And a recent book documents how the firearms industry, who funds the NRA, was responsible for current obsession with 2nd Amendment:

        Pamela Haag (2016). The Gunning of American: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture. Basic Books.

        As I wrote in my previous comment, though a trained epidemiologist, I have always loved reading and history, politics, law, economics, etc. have been areas of interest. I have lots more articles on 2nd Amendment if you are interested.

        I’ve written a a number of Reader’s Editorials for a local online magazine, East County Magazine, many dealing with “Constitutional issue” that you might find of interest:

        READER’S EDITORIAL: WHY AN EMPLOYER SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO EXCLUDE BIRTH CONTROL FROM HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS BASED ON RELIGIOUS BELIEFS at: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/reader’s-editorial-why-employer-should-not-be-allowed-exclude-birth-control-health-insurance-plans

        READER’S EDITORIAL: THE INTERNET, OUR ESSENTIAL INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY at: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/reader’s-editorial-internet-our-essential-information-superhighway

        READER’S EDITORIAL: SHOULD WE KEEP THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE? NO! at: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/reader’s-editorial-should-we-keep-electoral-college-no

        READER’S EDITORIAL: THE TRAGIC DEATH OF KATHRYN STEINLE IN SAN FRANCISCO: WHAT IS MISSING FROM THE NARRATIVE? at: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/readers-editorial-tragic-death-kathryn-steinle-san-francisco-what-missing-narrative

        READER’S EDITORIAL: MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND STATES RIGHTS at: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/search/node/%22joel%20a.%20harrison%22?page=1

        You can find all of my 28 Reader’s Editorials at: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/search/node/%22joel%20a.%20harrison%22

      • Thanks. I’ll check the links out. But one quick comment: the idea that Americans are ignorant and easily manipulable is a common one. Indeed, a majority of Americans seem to think that the majority is beyond hope. But it’s obviously fallacious. Americans aren’t stupid; rather, they’re stupefied by a system that is increasingly rigid and confining. A movement to “re-constitute” the US would be a huge wakeup call. Americans would come alive, intellectually and politically.

  6. Hi:

    1. Studies have shown that 70+% of Americans lack the basics of science and logic.
    2. The very structure of our Constitution as you so well pointed out in “The Frozen Republic” makes it almost impossible to change things. The last election gave us a choice between Trump and Hillary, only compared to Trump, the lesser of the two evils.
    3. People psychologically resist change, admitting they were wrong. A great book about the underlying psychology is: Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (2007). Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. Harcourt. [there is a new edition]
    4. It takes a lot of time and effort to really delve into, understand, our “true” history and current political and economic situation and most people do not have the time, given working long hours just to make ends meet. And all this would have to go against the “patriotic” mythological narrative Americans have been taught and that has been reinforced over and over again. A very good friend of mine doesn’t like my finding fault with US. So, I asked her to give me examples where we excel. She said number of immigrants and amount of international aid. Not so. We rank lower than 20th compared to other countries in the per capita number of immigrants and refugees, and the same in per capita international aid. I supplied her with several articles. She accepted them; but then wanted to change the subject.
    5. The world is very complex and many people prefer a simple black and white solution to almost everything. I write articles for a non-profit, Every Child By Two, that promotes vaccinations. I go through point by point articles written by antivaccinationists and include numerous references. Not only do they not change their minds, they write articles on their blogs, often lying about what I wrote, knowing that the echo chamber represented by those who follow their blogs will not likely actually read my articles, just take their word. You can find my articles on vaccines at:


    6, People tend to interact mostly with like-minded, echo chambers.
    7. I have actually gotten some people to change their minds; but only briefly. Once confronted with the comfortable lies, the revert.
    8. I have been a long time advocate for a non-profit single-payer health care system. In US, our system cost twice what other countries do, while many uninsured or underinsured and outcomes worse on life-expectancy, infant mortality, quality of life years with chronic conditions, etc.; yet, try talking to many Americans. Reaction is you are a socialist, though single-payer is mainly private non-profit hospitals and private practicing doctors, just Medicare on steroids; but they have heard word “socialist” so many times it is a reflex reaction. Well, I actually have experienced real socialism. I went to our socialized, oops I mean public, schools and universities. I drive by our socialist neighborhood fire department, oops I mean city fire department and one and on it goes. Most people I have met don’t really know what “liberal”, “conservative”, “socialist”, and many other words actually mean. These words are not meant to inform; but as red flags to arouse emotion and shut down critical thinking.

    So, though not impossible, I think highly unlikely. And as, Hedges article below points out, we may be too late. We are too late when it comes to global warming. If we stopped emitting greenhouses gases completely tomorrow, we are beyond the tipping point. All we can do by stopping greenhouse gases is shorten the time the Earth will take to heal, not for us; but for our great great grandkids. I have read extensively on global warming. We could have done something in 1980, listened to Jimmy Carter. Instead, we chose Ronald Reagan, who did everything wrong regarding global warming; but made people feel “good.”

    A few more suggested readings:

    Chris Hedges (2017 Oct). The End of Empire: The empire will collapse and the nation will consume itself within our lifetimes if we do not wrest power from those who rule the corporate state. Nation of Change.

    Alexandra Jacobo (2017 Oct 12). One-third of Americans can’t afford food, housing or health care: The wide range of scores reflect the growing wealth gap in America. Nation of Change.

  7. Just learned of you and your work via a post on FB. Looks like we’ve been on parallel tracks for some time. Will take a closer look at your Jacobin piece from earlier this year.

  8. Hi Daniel, I’ve been following your work on the Constitution for about fifteen years, most recently on Jacobin. I came to the same conclusion about the Constitution as a New Leftist back in the early seventies and believe the fight for a democracy should be the left’s primary ideological and political focus. In discussing this issue with people over the years my experience has been that liberals think trying to change the Constitution is crazy and Marxists and socialists think it’s a diversion from building the fight for socialism. You’re very involved in the current political scene. What has your experience been? How receptive have people been to your proposal that the fight for a democratic constitution is the number one priority of the left?

    • Hi, Gil. Basically, they’ve been unreceptive, unresponsive, and uncomprehending. Talking about the Constitution seems to strike leftists as wonkish and abstract. Either they don’t want to hear about Jefferson and Madison and can’t imagine what they have to do with today’s struggles, or they see the Constitution as part of the old order and hence something that can be ignored while calling for all power to the soviets. It’s amazingly shallow since it ignores the paralyzing grip the document has on the American mind. I have an article coming out in Platypus shortly that tackles this issue more directly. I’ll post it as soon as it appears. Cheers, D.

      • That’s what I expected. I look forward to reading your Platypus piece. I’ve been working on a history of the New Left for some time that seeks to make a connection between SDS’s idea of participatory democracy and European Marxism’s primary demand for a democratic republic as the necessary precursor to socialism (at least until the Bolshevik Revolution). Are you aware that Tom Hayden in writing the draft of the Port Huron Statement almost included a criticism of the Constitution as undemocratic? I think both New Left history and what Marxists actually advocated in Europe are still not fully understood. Historically, the demand for universal suffrage and equal representation has been a powerful political force. I think it can become so again. Thanks for your great work.

  9. Just read your article on the American Conservative on Wahhabism and American foreign policy. Fantastically insightful. It would be wonderful if you can convert this to a short book.

  10. Hi Daniel, I have one follow up question. Odd as it may sound, it was reading Lenin on the democratic revolution in Russia back in the early seventies that prompted me to look at the American Constitution from a democratic perspective. Was there anything in your reading of Marxism that prompted a similar reaction or was it simply your reaction to your wife’s course on the Constitution in law school? (I’m drawing on your 1996 youtube interview for the information about laws school.) I ask this because I’m writing about the ideological legacy of the New Left. Thanks

    • No, it wasn’t anything that Lenin wrote that specifically got me going, just a Marxist viewpoint in general. I started thinking about the topic during Watergate, when the rhetoric struck me as thoroughly odd. Take Barbara Jordan’s famous comment, “My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.” Everyone cheered and cheered. But how could Jordan, a black woman, have total faith in a Constitution that includes the three-fifths clause, a lopsided Electoral College, an even more racist Senate, etc.? How could she be so blind — and how could every last political commentator be blind as well? It occurred to me that a country that seems to be open and transparent is actually a very strange place.

      • Yes. My reaction to Watergate was similar. I would just say that Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, and the pre-1917 Lenin all argued explicitly that the democratic republic had to be the principal political goal of the working class and that this is what political consciousness meant to them. It’s unfortunate that most current day Marxists and socialists don’t (yet) understand their theory of political consciousness.

  11. Hi Daniel, I was a member of SDS 1967-1970 and of the Revolutionary Union 1970-1975 and am writing a history of the New Left that says participatory democracy was partial and incomplete without the demand for a democratic constitution. I have included the title and preface here. If this interests you and you would like to read more please email me. Thanks, Gil Schaeffer

    The Unfinished History of the New Left:
    Participatory Democracy, Marxism, and the Goal of a Democratic Constitution

    [W]hat I do not quite understand about some new-left writers is why they cling so mightily to ‘the working class’ of the advanced capitalist societies as the historic agency, or even as the most important agency, in the face of the really impressive historical evidence that now stands against this expectation.
    Such a labor metaphysic, I think, is a legacy from Victorian Marxism that is now quite unrealistic….
    …Forget Victorian Marxism, except when you need it; and read Lenin again (be careful)—Rosa Luxemburg, too.

    C. Wright Mills
    “Letter to the New Left” (1960)

    This study makes two claims about the history of the New Left: that SDS and the New Left in general did not end with the breakup of the SDS National Office or with Weatherman and that SDS’s ideals and practice of participatory democracy share much in common with the political movements of classical Marxism. That the democratic ideology of the New Left is compatible in some way with Marxism is suggested by the above quotation from C. Wright Mills, but only suggested. Mills died before he had a chance to develop his ideas fully, and his meaning and intentions remained too obscure and idiosyncratic for anyone else to develop them either. For a complex set of reasons, it was Mills’ warning about Victorian Marxism and its labor metaphysic that was generally taken as his final verdict on the value of Marxism as a whole. The reference to Lenin and Luxemburg at the end of the “Letter to the New Left” remained for all intents and purposes invisible, as did Mills’ last book, The Marxists, in which he declared himself a “plain Marxist.”
    I was a member of SDS from 1967-1970 and of the Revolutionary Union from 1970-1975 and from that experience arrived at my own understanding of the relationship between Marxism and democracy. Marxism’s claim to originality rested on its critique of capitalism and the necessity of socialism; but Marxism was at the same time a political movement that had inherited and assimilated the democratic principles and goals of the American and French revolutions, the most basic of which was the demand for a democratic republic based on universal and equal political representation to replace the monarchies and privileged elites of Old Regime Europe. This European political history is relevant to the United States because the U.S. Constitution is not based on equal representation either, the equal vote given to each state in the Senate regardless of population being proof enough of that. The European working class and Marxist movements confronted the problem of how to get democracy when you don’t have it for more than a century, and the theories, ideologies, strategies, tactics, and organizations they created to achieve that goal have something to teach us in our own quest for a truly representative democracy in the U.S.
    The puzzle at the center of the history of the New Left is why, given its commitment to democratic values, it didn’t recognize Constitution itself. Democratic ideals can’t be realized without democratic political institutions, yet the New Left never made this connection between its values and the constitutional structure of the government. As a consequence, the New Left’s democratic ideology remained partial and incomplete. The goal of democracy in the U.S. requires confronting the undemocratic structure of the Constitution directly and demanding national political institutions based on equal representation.
    The unconventional part of this story is that I came to this conclusion by way of reading Lenin on the democratic revolution in Russia as a participant in the Marxist-Leninist New Left. I always thought that the move from the campus to the factory was an expression of SDS’s original democratic values, not their rejection, and I used the principles of democracy that I had learned in SDS to measure the value of Marxism for our situation here in the U.S. To tell that story, however, it is first necessary to puncture the myth that SDS ended with Weatherman. That is where this history begins.

  12. Hello Daniel,

    I’ve read all three of your books. Thank you for giving the “we” part of me such a liberating perspective on US history and politics. Two questions: What do you think of the historian Gerald Horne and especially his book “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America”. And do you have a opinion/perspective on economics and especially today’s Modern Monetary Theorists such as Michael Hudson (“J is for Junk Economics”) and L. Randall Wray (“Modern Money Theory”).

    All the best,

    • Hi, Chris. Thanks so much for your comments. Sorry, but I haven’t read Horne’s book. But two things are worth keeping in mind. One is that American slaves were “royalist,” i.e. pro-British and hostile to the patriotic cause. The other is that the Constitution weakened slavery in the North (where it was halfway out the door in an event) but rendered it all but impregnable in the South. The result was the side-by-side expansion of two incompatible systems based on free and unfree labor. Civil war was thus inevitable from the moment the document was ratified. Regarding Hudson and Wray, I’m unfamiliar with the latter but don’t think much of the former. I think Michael wrongly focuses on finance capital rather than capitalism in general. Are you familiar with Michael Robert’s work? I think his approach is much sounder. He blogs at https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com.

  13. Oh yes the American slaves were pro-British and they would have been very foolish not to be since Britain was moving towards banning slavery. What Horne helps us to see is that the compelling motivation for the American Revolution and the creation of the frozen republic was to preserve the institution of slavery–and not merely dissatisfaction with imperial control and the issue of taxation without representation. After all, the constitution that our white, landholding, slave-revolt-fearing elite created not only enshrined an oligarchy but also a slavocracy. Remove slavery from the equation and are you still left with enough tinder to spark a revolution? None of this it seems to me runs counter to the themes of your books, but rather widens the perspective and sharpens the focus. For Horne’s views on how Marx’s ideas can be applied to the origins of the United States, I recommend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHxOBrd9tWE

    Thanks for recommending Michael Roberts.

  14. Just read your article in Jacobinmag title Timothy Snyder Lies. Can’t agree more. I stopped subscribing to the NYRB because of his and Anne Applebaum and Masha Gessen’s articles. Just wrote a review of Marci Shore’s two books (the first on Communist “totalitarianism” in Czechoslovakia and Poland and the second on the “revolution” in Ukraine). It turns out that she is Timothy Snyder’s wife and teaches Russian Lit at Yale. Her writing is as biased, and even more “fictional” than his. And just like his writing, she is very popular. My method of reviewing her books is very similar to yours: I rely on quotes and place them into a historical context which highlights the nonsense. I am retired (my Ph.D. is in Comparative Literature and I’ve taught French, German and Russian Lit and Language). I haven’t published much political stuff but considering what’s going on, and the Russiagate avalanche, just do want to enter the fray. Tried to submit my review to The Nation, but they are not responding. Just don’t know what to do. Would very much appreciate your advice: Galina Litvinov De Roeck deroeckgalina7@gmail.com

    • I’d follow up with the Nation via email and phone. The internal politics are murky due to an ongoing staff civil war between Russia-phobes and anti-Hillaryites, but it’s worth a try. If that fails, you can try the Boston Review or perhaps the LA Review of Books, although they’re probably in the pro-Snyder camp. (The LARB slammed by Jacobin piece.) There are also web sites to try such as N+1, Consortium News, or Truthdig. It’s a tough row to hoe. But it’s important not to give up.

  15. Just read The Frozen Republic. What is your take on the current events in England and implications for parlement.

    • As I said in my most recent post, the British and American systems are “two branches of the same Anglo-American tree … that began diverging at some point in the mid-eighteenth century.” The US is completely and totally frozen at this point. The British system is a little more flexible around the edges, but other aspects — the class system in particular — are just as rigid. The result is growing inequality and rigidity and an increasingly myopic political class. Now, after decades of neglect, a giant crack-up seems to be in the works. It’s quite fascinating, although not in a good way.

  16. Hello Daniel, I saw you on Crosstalk today on youtube discussing Ukraine and I was impressed with your understanding of the situation there. My wife is from there and I have been going there every few years since 2004. in 2014 when the Maidan revolution was going on, I was surprised at first that Putin moved on Crimea but I immediately realized that it was inevitable since the Baltic fleet was moored in Sevastopol and he wasn’t about to let a hostile regime in Kyiv surround him. I think the rebellion in the eastern Oblasts was a distraction to take everyone’s mind off of Crimea.
    All my life I’ve studied history and world events which I think has given me a wider perspective than most and my impression of Ukraine was that it was a beautiful country with intelligent, hard-working people, frustrated with the lack of opportunity to create some wealth for themselves like their neighbors, i.e. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, etc. who were also set free after the big breakup. They saw western Europe and the US as unbelievably rich and yet they couldn’t even visit.
    The US govt., or at least the MIC was horrified at the ending of the cold war and was desperate to recreate it with Russia and as a chess move, courted Ukraine in an effort to threaten Russia and further marginalize them. This only made Russia attempt to exercise more control over Ukraine by keeping their govt. populated with pro-Russian politicians. If Putin had just pushed them to reduce the rampant corruption, probably the Ukrainian people would have been satisfied with that at least enough to not force a revolution.
    Most Ukrainians still consider Russians to be their brethren, but they have taken out their anger on Putin. They were shocked by the invasion of Crimea and the Russian backed rebellion in the east. If Zelenskiy wants to successfully end the conflict and return Donetsk and Luhansk to their former status, he is going to have to give up trying to get Crimea back. It will never happen. He hasn’t even been sworn in yet and already he’s attacking Putin. That’s an absolutely stupid thing to do. Putin may be a lot of things but he isn’t stupid or crazy. Or easily intimidated. If VZ would have a talk with Putin, put everything on the table and be diplomatic, everything could be settled. Eventually, Crimea would return to its old status in reality, if not formally. VZ needs to stay away from NATO and only trade with the EU under WTO rules, otherwise, he risks serious problems with Russia.

    • I don’t agree with everything you say, but I’m certainly with you on Sevastopol. That really is the key to the whole situation. If the February 2014 coup had been successful and the naval base transferred to a hostile government, Russia would essentially have found itself shut out of the Black Sea (not the Baltic, by the way). The victory for NATO and the US would have been. Russia would have wound up even more isolated while pressure on other former Soviet republics to shift to the western camp would no doubt have increased. Who knows, but maybe Georgia would have even launched another war at US behest. But, fortunately, Putin was able to nip the latest manifestation of Washington’s “drang nach osten” in the bud.

  17. Hello again Daniel,

    I have just finished reading Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America by Lee Drutman. I’m wondering if you’ve read it and what you think of it.

    Drutman’s book gives me hope for America in that we don’t have to hold our breath waiting for a “fantastic” coup d’etat by the House of Representatives (paraphrased from p. 169 of Sanford Levinson’s Our Undemocratic Constitution) to unfreeze the American Republic and bring about true democracy. The following is from the inside flap of Breaking the Two Party Doom Loop:

    “Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop makes a compelling case for large-scale electoral reform–importantly, reform not requiring a constitutional amendment–that would give America more parties, making American democracy more representative, more responsive, and ultimately more stable.”

    I also might add that I believe once we achieve a multiparty democracy in America it would be much easier to call for a constituent assembly to construct a new constitution.

    Chris Bea

  18. Pingback: The Supreme Court and the façade of U.S. democracy – International Socialism Project

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