Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review: Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century

Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century by Thomas Woods.

The central idea is to look at how Thomas Jefferson and his peers viewed the Principal-Agent relationship between the states and the federal government. And see how nullification was and could be used to reign-in tyranny at the federal level.

I'm a big fan of Tom Woods and his books, and very sympathetic to the idea of nullification. I wasn't expecting a page-turner or Grisham novel given the subject matter, but I found the book a little academic and not particularly exciting.

Don't get me wrong, the book is well-researched, logical, and full of facts. I also recommend his other recent books: Meltdown, 33 Questions about American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, Who Killed the Constitution?, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. (in fact, all are STRONGLY recommended)

Some quick items from Nullification:
1. This book and the concept of nullification are NOT defenses of slavery.
2. Should the federal govt. be allowed to act as its own throttle?
3. The exchange w/ Nancy Pelosi on page 1 must be seen to be believed. I remember when it happened. p. 1
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
-- Thomas Jefferson
4. Nullification as a shield between people of the states and federal tyranny. The federal govt. does not have a monopoly on constitutional interpretation. p. 3
5. Supreme Court as part of the problem. Fox guards henhouse. p. 7
6. The massive dilution of representation in Congress. p. 17
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.
-- James Madison
7. Where have the most outrages against humans and human dignity occurred? In decentralized polities or centralized governments? p. 18
8. General Welfare, Commerce, Necessary and Proper. pp. 22 - 31
9. The central statement of the principles behind nullification. The Principal-Agent relationship. pp. 47-48
In questions of power...let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
--Thomas Jefferson
10. The seeds of the "Civil War" ... the South's case against protective tariffs. pp. 74-75
11. The explanation (and a rather clear and cogent one) of why defending states' rights is not a defense of slavery. p. 75 (also see this video)
12. Threats of force against one's own people, viewed from both domestic and foreign perspectives. pp. 77-78

13. United States of America: "are," not "is"
14. Did the Civil War "settle" the question of federal primacy and states' rights? (excellent section) pp. 84-85

[see what John Shadegg says here and here]

Two not-to-be-missed videos will quickly get you up to speed on the point of the book:
Jeffrey Tucker interviews Tom Woods
Tom Woods Gets Interviewed by a Zombie (hilarious!)

I definitely recommend the book for the subject matter and the strength of argument, it's just not an exciting read. and comes off rather academic at times

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