Books

Book: “Deep Green Resistance”

By Derrick Jensen

For years, Derrick Jensen has asked his audiences, “Do you think this culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of life?” No one ever says yes.
Deep Green Resistance starts where the environmental movement leaves off: industrial civilization is incompatible with life. Technology can’t fix it, and shopping—no matter how green—won’t stop it. To save this planet, we need a serious resistance movement that can bring down the industrial economy. Deep Green Resistance evaluates strategic options for resistance, from nonviolence to guerrilla warfare, and the conditions required for those options to be successful. It provides an exploration of organizational structures, recruitment, security, and target selection for both aboveground and underground action. Deep Green Resistance also discusses a culture of resistance and the crucial support role that it can play.
Deep Green Resistance is a plan of action for anyone determined to fight for this planet—and win.

Book: “The Rebel”

By Albert Camus

By one of the most profoundly influential thinkers of our century, The Rebel is a classic essay on revolution. For Albert Camus, the urge to revolt is one of the “essential dimensions” of human nature, manifested in man’s timeless Promethean struggle against the conditions of his existence, as well as the popular uprisings against established orders throughout history. And yet, with an eye toward the French Revolution and its regicides and deicides, he shows how inevitably the course of revolution leads to tyranny. As old regimes throughout the world collapse, The Rebel resonates as an ardent, eloquent, and supremely rational voice of conscience for our tumultuous times.

Book: “Human Scale”

By Kirkpatrick Sale

Size matters. And “progress”, as it translates into sprawl, congestion, resource depletion, overpopulation, the decline of communities and the rise of corporate rule, is quite literally killing us. In his landmark work Human Scale, Kirkpatrick Sale details the crises facing modern society and offers real solutions, laying out ways that we can take control of every facet of our lives by building institutions, workplaces and communities that are sustainable, ecologically balanced, and responsive to the needs of the individual. As relevant today as when it was first published in 1980, this remarkable book provides a fascinating perspective on the last quarter-century of “growth” and anticipates by decades the current movement towards relocalization in response to the end of cheap oil.

Book: “The Breakdown of Nations”

By Leopold Kohr

In The Breakdown of Nations Leopold Kohr shows that throughout history, people who have lived in small states are happier, more peaceful, more creative and more prosperous. He argues that virtually all our political and social problems would be greatly diminished if the world’s major countries were to dissolve back into the small states from which they sprang. Rather than making even larger political unions, in the mistaken belief that this will bring peace and security, we should minimise the aggregation of power by returning to a patchwork of small, relatively powerless states where leaders are accessible to and responsive to the people. This new edition of The Breakdown of Nations is published at a time when Britain faces its most important political decision for hundreds of years – whether or not to join a common European currency. Many believe that this would lead inexorably to a European sub-state, so it is timely to re-examine the implications of the size of political groupings, whether they be states nations or federations.

Book: “The Myth of Sisyphus”

By Alburt Camus

How does one exist without any given purpose or meaning? How does one develop meaning? Le Mythe de Sisyphe addresses this directly in the retelling of the famous tale. Considering the plight of Sisyphus, condemned to roll a stone up a mountain knowing the stone will roll down yet again, it is easy to declare his existence absurd and without hope. It would be easy to believe Sisyphus might prefer death. But in Camus’ myth, he does not.

For Camus, Sisyphus is the ultimate absurd hero. He was sentenced for the crime of loving life too much; he defied the gods and fought death. The gods thought they found a perfect form of torture for Sisyphus. He would constantly hope for success, that the stone would remain at the top of the mountain. This, the gods thought, would forever frustrate him.

Book: “The Plague”

By Alburt Camus

A haunting tale of human resilience in the face of unrelieved horror, Camus’ novel about a bubonic plague ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature.

The Nobel prize-winning Albert Camus, who died in 1960, could not have known how grimly current his existentialist novel of epidemic and death would remain. Set in Algeria, in northern Africa, The Plague is a powerful study of human life and its meaning in the face of a deadly virus that sweeps dispassionately through the city, taking a vast percentage of the population with it.

Book: “Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline”

By Morris Berman

Why America Failed is the third and most engaging volume of Morris Berman’s trilogy on the decline of the American empire. In The Twilight of American Culture, Berman examined the internal factors of that decline, showing that they were identical to those of Rome in its late-empire phase. In Dark Ages America, he explored the external factors—e.g., the fact that both empires were ultimately attacked from the outside—and the relationship between the events of 9/11 and the history of U.S. foreign policy.

Why America Failed is a controversial work, one that will shock, anger, and transform its readers. The book is a stimulating and provocative explanation of how we managed to wind up in our current situation: economically weak, politically passe, socially divided, and culturally adrift. It is a tour de force, a powerful conclusion to Berman’s study of American imperial decline.

Book: “Civil Disobedience”

By Henry David Thoreau

Civil Disobedience written by legendary author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau is widely considered to be one of the top essays of all time. This great classic which argues that people should not permit governments to overrule will surely attract a whole new generation of readers. For many, Civil Disobedience is required reading for various courses and curriculums. And for others who simply enjoy reading timeless pieces of classic literature, this text by Henry David Thoreau is highly recommended. Published by Classic Books America and beautifully produced, Civil Disobedience would make an ideal gift and it should be a part of everyone’s personal library.

Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience was originally published in 1849 as Resistance to Civil Government. Thoreau wrote this classic essay to advocate public resistance to the laws and acts of government that he considered unjust. The practical application of Civil Disobedience was largely ignored until the twentieth century when, at different times, Modanda Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and anti-Vietnam War activists applied Thoreau’s principles.

Book: “The Vermont Manifesto”

By Thomas H. Naylor

“From the standpoint of puppeteers and their subversive papiermâché, Vermont Second Republic sounds like a good idea to fight megalomania.” — Peter Schumann, Founder, Bread & Puppet Theater

“I must assure you of my pleasure in, and approval of, your views on the Second Vermont Republic.” — John Kenneth Galbraith, Retired Harvard Economist

“In the idea of the three American states’ ultimate independence, I see nothing fanciful.” — George F. Kennan, Former Ambassador to Russia and Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton

“Naylor makes the case for an independent Vermont that could enter the world of nations and begin disuniting the U.S.” — Frank Bryan, University of Vermont Professor and Author of Real Democracy

“Professor Naylor has made a compelling case that Vermont would be better off out of the Union than in it.” — Donald W. Livingston, Professor of Philosophy, Emory University

“There are few radical thinkers. Naylor is one of the most courageous. Distinguished, deeply moral, genius wild man.” — Carolyn Chute, Author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine, Merry Men and Snow Man

“Thomas Naylor makes a powerful case for an independent Vermont. Folks may be ready to consider his wise radicalism.” — Bill Kauffman, Author of Dispatches from The Muckdog Gazette

“Vermont Manifesto is a serious examination of our right of self governance and that right’s implication for secession.” — Walter E. Williams, Professor of Economics, George Mason University

Book: “Secession: How Vermont and all the other states can save themselves from the Empire”

By Thomas H. Naylor

“Tom Paine for the 21st century. A surprisingly compelling argument for applying the small-is-beautiful philosophy to the United States itself.”

Jay Walljasper
Editor of Ode magazine

“I must assure you of my pleasure in, and approval of, your views on the Second Vermont Republic. The assertion by Vermonters of a sensible foreign policy is wonderfully to the good. You have my agreement and my admiration.”

John Kenneth Galbraith
Harvard Economist

“All power to Vermont in its effort to distinguish itself from the U.S.A. as a whole, and to pursue in its own way the cultivation of its tradition. My enthusiasm for what you are trying to do in Vermont remains undiminished; I am happy for any small support I can give it.”

George F. Kennan
Former Ambassador to Russia and Professor, Institute for
Advanced Studies, Princeton

“Tom Naylor makes a serious case for an independent Vermont, a Second Vermont Republic that could immediately enter the world of nations and thereby begin the peaceful, democratic, and indeed moral process of disuniting the United States.”

Frank Bryan
University of Vermont Professor
And Author of Real Democracy


Book: AFFLUENZA

By John De Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor

From Library Journal
De Graaf, producer of the PBS documentaries Affluenza (1996) and Escape from Affluenza (1998); David Wann, a former EPA staffer and expert on sustainable lifestyles; and Thomas H. Naylor, professor emeritus in economics at Duke, have assembled an updated and more in-depth look at the epidemic of overconsumption sweeping the United States and the rest of the world, based on de Graaf’s documentaries. They define “affluenza” as “a painful, contagious, socially-transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more” and examine the spiraling cycle of overconsumption, spending, stress, and broken relationships caused by America’s obsession with uncontrolled economic growth at any cost. This witty yet hard-hitting book provides evidence of the social problems caused by the American obsession with acquiring “stuff” and proposes solutions for living more sustainably. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. -Mark Bay, Indiana Univ.


Book: Bye Bye, Miss American Empire

by Bill Kauffman

FAREWELL TO THE AMERICAN

EMPIRE WITH LOVE

Although libertarian writer Bill Kauffman is no secessionist, he has just published the definitive book on the subject.  Bye Bye Miss American Empire is a love story about America written by a loyal American, but, unfortunately, it is a story of unrequited love.

While professing “a deep and abiding love for the United States” and a sentimentalist desire to “keep Upstate New York in the Union,” Kauffman opines that “secession is the next radical idea poised to enter mainstream discourse – or at the realm of the conceivable.”

Kauffman skillfully traces the historical origins of secession back to America’s very first secession in 1776.  As he correctly notes, “We are a nation born in secession.”

“To secede means to withdraw.  It is not self-effacement; the seceding party does not disappear.  It simply removes itself from an arrangement it no longer finds satisfactory and sets up another.”

There is a lot of talk about secession today throughout the United States.  A visit to the highly informative website secessionnews.com will confirm this fact.  As many as 30 states now have active secession movements.  Kauffman takes a close look at some of these movements including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, California, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the eleven states of the Confederacy.  Several new secession movements have emerged since Kauffman completed his research including the Texas Nationalist Movement and the Palmetto Republic.

Kauffman makes a clear distinction between what he calls the “true America,” the America of Mark Twain, Henry Thoreau, and Zora Neale Hurston, and the American Empire, “that cold-eyed death machine that ground American boys into fodder to spit out into the frozen Chosin of Korea, the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, the dunes of Mesopotamia.”  The Empire “has run out of money, out of even the fig leaf of moral justification, out of any international sanction save the specious pule of the coerced and the fraudulent.”  Continuing he ads, “The Empire demands that we pledge allegiance to the distant over the near, to the abstract over the real, to perpetual war over peace and harmony.”

Interestingly enough, Kauffman shows little or no interest in either Alaskan, Hawaiian, or Puerto Rican statehood.  The Alaskan Independence Party’s challenge to Alaskan statehood is based on the claim that the 1958 statehood election was deliberately manipulated by the U.S. government, which wanted to assure an affirmative vote because of Alaska’s strategic military importance in the Cold War.  Both Hawaii and Puerto Rico were annexed by the U.S. as a result of nineteenth century gunboat diplomacy.

Kauffman devotes an entire chapter to California which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says has become “the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta.”  With a population of over 36 million and a gross state product of $11.5 trillion, California has the eighth largest economy in the world.  Schwarzenegger adds that, “We have the economic strength, we have the population and technological force of a nation-state.”  Some Californians are calling for secession.  Others would like to see the state divided into three separate regions which could evolve into independent states or nations.

As for the flattering things Kauffman has to say about the Second Vermont Republic and the Vermont independence movement in general, I can only hope that we can live up to his expectations.

Deep in the heart of Texas, in Nederland, Texas, to be exact, lies the headquarters of the fastest growing, most serious secession movement in the United States since the end of the Civil War in 1865 – The Texas Nationalist Movement.  TNM was catapulted onto the national stage in 2009 when Texas governor Rick Perry threatened to secede from the Union while participating in an April 15th Tea Party (tax revolt) in Austin.

TNM is led by 35-year-old Daniel Miller, the group’s very bright, articulate, charismatic, politically sophisticated president.  The goal of the Texas Nationalist Movement is nothing short of “Independence. In our lifetime.” according to its state-of-the-art website texasnationalist.com.

What truly differentiates TNM from stereotypical Southern secession movements such as the League of the South is its laser-like focus on Texas independence rather than on such spurious, divisive issues as Christian fundamentalism, abortion, and gay rights.  One of the reasons the League of the South has proven to be so ineffective as a secession organization is that it is in too many unrelated businesses – evangelical Christianity, right to life, Southern history and culture, the Confederate flag, and the song “Dixie.”  That’s a lot of inflammatory baggage to carry, and unfortunately, some of it is tarnished by the taint of racism.  The Texas Nationalist Movement is only about peaceable Texas independence.

In a recent article in the Forth Worth Star-Telegram by Dave Montgomery, Daniel Miller was quoted as saying, “We maintain an open-door policy.  If you’re about freedom – individual freedom – and liberty and Texas independence, we call you brother or sister.”  Miller proudly proclaims that TNM “includes Hispanics, African-Americans, women, lifelong Democrats and union members.”  Continuing he notes that, “We don’t argue race; we don’t argue Democratic or Republican.”  And the movement predates the Age of Obama by nearly 15 years.

No sentence better captures the essence of Kauffman’s book than, “The noise is the sweet hum of revolution, of subjects learning how to be citizens, of people shaking off…their Wall Street and Pentagon overlords and taking charge of their lives once more.”

Bye Bye Miss American Empire is a radical book about the new radical politics in America, peaceable secession from the American Empire.  But consider yourself forewarned.  Bill Kauffman is such a disarmingly effective writer that you may be seduced into reconsidering your views on what many consider to be one of the most politically incorrect ideas in America – secession.

The Empire is going down.  Do you want to go down with the Titanic, or do you want to consider other options while such options are still on the table?  Secession is an option which can no longer be summarily dismissed.

Bye Bye Miss American Empire was published by Chelsea Green Publishing, P.O. Box 428, White River Jct., VT  05001, 802-295-6300, www.chelseagreen.com.  The book is available in paperback, contains 320 pages, and costs $17.95.

June 1, 2010

Thomas H. Naylor

Downsizing the U.S.A.

by Thomas Naylor  and William H. Willimon                 

In this trenchant analysis of American society, Thomas H. Naylor and William H. Willimon take an unabashed stance against the belief that “bigger is better” and warn that size and technological complexity are not risk free. There is a grave price to be paid for our uncritical affirmation of bigness, universal solutions to problems, dehumanizing uniformity, and standardized mass production.

Naylor and Willimon argue that our government, our cities, our corporations, our schools, our churches, our military, and our social welfare system are all too big, too powerful, too intrusive, too insular, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small local communities.  They propose specific strategies for decentralizing and downsizing virtually every major institution in America, including America itself.  The authors audaciously call for the peaceful dissolution of the United States through secession and  provide a thoughtful game plan for achieving this controversial objective.

“If the world, the species, can be saved, it will through the carrying out of the vision so forcefully suggested here of societies decentralized to a vibrant, empowering human scale.  Indeed, it will not come any other way.” – Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale

“Liberal and conservative, left and right – these mean nothing today.  The new fault line in American politics divides the human scale from the global, the local from the remote.  In this inspiring and – yes – prophetic book, Naylor and Willimon see hope in dissolution and renewal in secession.” – Bill Kauffman, author of America First

“Very thoughtful!  I enjoyed Downsizing the U.S.A. very much.” – Richard Lamm, former governor of Colorado and director of the Center for Public Policy and Contemporary Issues, University of Denver

The Search For Meaning

by Thomas H. Naylor, William H. Willimon           

      

& Magdalena R. Naylor

A strong sense of meaning is what motivates us to get out of bed each morning and confront yet another day and all its uncertainty…to make life more of an adventure.

“Stimulating and insightful…dares to explore elusive issues—and to explore them in the context of the current American political climate.” – Irvin D. Yalom, M.D.,Professor of Psychiatry, Stanford University, author of Love’s Executioner and When Nietzsche Wept

“A good job…A quest for meaning…cannot be conducted without some reference to an ultimate concern.”  — James M. Wall, Christian Century

“Part echo of the sixties, part wake-up call for the nineties, The Search for Meaning bravely confronts the meaningless underside of American life and invites us to see, follow, and create alternative ways of being in the world.” – James P. Wind, Ph.D., Lilly Endowment

The Cold War Legacy

by Thomas H. Naylor                                                         

        

“The turn of history has delivered what Tom Naylor was among the first to anticipate, an end to the cold war…For years, as a specialist in management, Dr. Naylor taught and consulted with the mangers of the bureaucracies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.  He was convinced that a ‘revolution’ was coming, and it came through Mikhail Gorbachev’s pragmatic initiatives to save his nation.  If not a prophet, Tom Naylor is certainly an astute observer and analyst.  We will benefit by listening to him now.” – Terry Sanford, U.S. Senate, member of the Committee on Foreign Relations

“Thomas Naylor’s The Cold War Legacy provides a useful framework for analyzing the origins and development of the East-West conflict.  His insight into the shared social and economic elements of the two great postwar powers contributes significantly to the discussion of the common journey toward reconciliation.  Naylor’s anecdotal style accurately conveys the Soviet perspective and experience; his analysis of alternative strategies in the Cold War compels the reader to consider alternative resolutions.” —Sarah C. Carey, Attorney, U.S.-Soviet trade specialist

“Interpreting the essential contents behind Mr. Gorbachev’s words ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost’ has not been an easy task for the West.  Tom Naylor has accomplished something very important for us by changing these ‘magic’ terms to more understandable words that do have a message for East-West relations.  He opens his reader’s eyes to see that our thoughts should be focused more on the dramatic reform policies than on the ‘Evil Empire’ of the past.   For everyone who cares about our common future, this book is essential reading.” – Reino Paasilinna, former Finnish diplomat; Director-General and Chairman, Finnish Broadcasting Company

“Tom Naylor’s book helps us look at ourselves with post-Cold War spectacles: the real winners of that war were the nations that never joined it.  We have new economic habits to learn and, ironically, we must learn them in concert with the Soviets.”  –– Donald W. Shriver, Jr., President, Union Theological Seminary

“Tom Naylor’s The Cold War Legacy is a healthy reminder of past national-policy stupidities and a clear call for more rational policies in the future.  He cuts through the fog of ‘expert’ obfuscation to detail why Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika have been so meaningful within the U.S.S.R. and are so vitally necessary with the United States as well.” – Hodding Carter III, journalist