It is a pleasure to recommend a new book edited by Donald Livingston. The book is titled Rethinking the American Union for the Twenty-First Century (Pelican Publishing Company, 2012). The book consists of seven essays, plus an Introduction written by Livingston. The book springs out of a conference held by the Abbeville Institute in 2010.
If there is an overarching thesis of the book, it may be found in the following words from Livingston, in his introduction. The essays in the book are “efforts to rethink the philosophical, political, moral, and constitutional assumptions that have led us to think that size and scale do not matter in political things and that have produced a regime suffering from elephantitis, with little understanding of its condition and even less inclination to seek such understanding” (p. 23).
Here are the chapter titles:
Introduction: “The Old Assumptions No Longer Apply” (Donald Livingston)
Chapter 1: “Secession: A Constitutional Remedy that Protects Fundamental Liberties” (Kent Masterson Brown)
Chapter 2: “The Founding Fathers of Constitutional Subversion” (Thomas DiLorenzo)
Chapter 3: “The Tenth Amendment Awakening, the Supreme Court Be Damned (Marshall DeRosa)
Chapter 4: “American Republicanism and the Forgotten Question of Size” (Donald Livingston)
Chapter 5: “’To the Size of States There is a Limit’: Measurements for the Success of a State” (Kirkpatrick Sale)
Chapter 6: “Too Big to Fail? Lessons from the Demise of the Soviet Union” (Yuri Maltsev)
Chapter 7: “Most Likely to Secede: U.S. Empire and the Emerging Vermont Independence Effort” (Rob Williams)
I pretty much read anything from Livingston I can get my hands on. His chapter (on the question of the size of political units, or the question of the economy of scale) is an excellent way to begin to work through intellectually the question of political order, and when one might begin to say, “It’s simply too big!” And Maltsev’s chapter on the break-up of the Soviet Union is simply a joy to read.
These essays are an excellent introduction to thinking through fundamental questions of political order.