As a libertarian, my politics are very close to the Old Right, and an Old Right man not read enough is Frank Chodorov, a libertarian’s libertarian who believed in individualism and distrusted all political power.
He helped found the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (now Intercollegiate Studies Institute) with the young William F. Buckley, Jr. in 1953. Chodorov served as the first president of the country’s first national conservative student organization. Frank Chodorov rightly understood the federal income tax (Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution) as a direct assault on private property and the liberty of the individual because the federal government was granted the power to impose a lien on all production. His essay ”Revolution of 1913” explains the fundamental transformation achieved by progressive Statists in 1913.
Here’s an excerpt: “…the immunities written into the compact of 1789 have been eradicated by the proceeds of the Sixteenth Amendment. This one measure effected a change in the relationship between society and its ruling regime as thoroughly as if it had been done by invasion and conquest. The revolution of 1913 undid the profits of the revolution of 1789.”
The political regime of 1913 fundamentally transformed the United States. Although the ideas which transformed the relationship between the State and society in 1913 had been around for decades, the general election of 1912 was the opening salvo of the Revolution of 1913.
In fact, let’s see how closely the election of 1912 resembled the general election of 2008:
1. The Republican Party was split between progressives and conservatives. Conservatives supported the Republican candidate William Howard Taft and the progressives supported Republican-turned-progressive Teddy Roosevelt, John McCain’s hero. McCain/Palin comes to mind.
2. Democrat, progressive intellectual and Princeton University President Woodrow Wilson took advantage of the split Republican party and won the election.
3. The 63rd Congress was elected with Democrats winning solid majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Now see the major victories the statists won in the Revolution of 1913:
1. Feb. 3 – Sixteenth Amendment – Authorizes apportioned taxation on income.
2. April 8 – Seventeenth Amendment – Establishes direct election of senators
3. Oct. 3 – United States Revenue/Tariff Act of 1913 – Re-imposed the federal income tax and initially lowered basic tariffs.
4. Dec. 23 – Federal Reserve Act – Created Federal Reserve System of central banking in the United States. Thomas DiLorenzo tackled the subject in 2006 at a seminar at the Mises Institute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efrpKvdh2wY
The liberty movement sometimes finds itself saying “Restore the Republic” by “Respecting the Constitution.” A noble goal, but not all parts of the Constitution are worth keeping. Those of us who believe in liberty must emancipate ourselves from the illusion that statist America was created without amending the Constitution. Liberty will not prevail over a tyrannical government until the guiding document is empowered to limit government once again and the People are vigilant in its defense. I contend liberty was undermined in America in small flourishes of statist dominance.
The Revolution of 1913 added the 16th Amendment which created a federal income tax, thereby giving the government a limitless stake in what a citizen earns before he even chooses to use it. The Revolution of 1913 also amended the Constitution to include the 17th Amendment, which broke the check against majoritarian appetites in Senate elections by using the popular vote instead of state legislature. 1913 also saw the creation of other great institutions for liberty like the Federal Reserve (sarcasm). The 14th Amendment has been deliberately misinterpreted and manipulated to give federal authority supremacy over the states as well. For liberty to thrive again, the vines of statism must be removed from the Constitution and the whole mass of the People must be awakened and vigilant in their defense of the Constitution. The Republic and our liberty have been lost, but we can take it back.
I am reminded of two quotes. Thomas Jefferson once asked that those in power “educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” And when Benjamin Franklin was asked what he had given us at the founding of the nation, he replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”