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Steven C. A. Pincus

Forfatter af 1688: The First Modern Revolution

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State/Culture: State-Formation after the Cultural Turn (1999) — Bidragyder — 25 eksemplarer

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Amazon has classed this book as a textbook but it is a book that will appeal to a much broader audience. Steven Pincus is the Bradford Durfee Professor of History at Yale University and he specializes in 17th- and 18th-century British and European history.

Here Mr. Pincus examines the underlying economic arguments framing the American Revolution and argues that the Revolution was a response to a British policy shift to economic policies similar to those we now call "austerity". Mr. Pincus argues that these austerity policies were initiated as a method to balance the British budget and reduce the British national debt and with them, the British government retreated from vigorous government investment and the promotion of international trade. Instead economic focus shifted to value extraction through high taxation on manufactured goods and a kind of flat tax on commercial activity implemented through the Stamp Act that acted something like VAT.

Mr. Pincus argues that the negative effects of the austerity policy was economic contraction on both sides of the Atlantic and cites contemporary British and American arguments and statistics to back up this view. He contends that the framers of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and The Constitution of the United States believed strongly that vigorous consumption at all levels (what we call "churn") is the basis of a robust economy, and that they supported an activist government, a government that supports commerce through direct investment in a diverse infrastructure.

Mr. Pincus thus is arguing against the common idea that the "freedom" rhetoric of the American Revolution was a protest against foreign rule. He argues that the colonies were arguing for free and vigorous trade. To build this argument, Mr. Pincus uses the Founding Fathers' own words, meticulously documented in the endnotes.

By extension, this argument implies that the Founding Fathers today would be vigorously investing tax dollars in education, technology and national infrastructure in an effort to improve consumption. The arguments Mr. Pincus cites are strikingly similar to those we have been hearing for the past decade about the economic contractions that austerity policies forced on debtor nations have had. And they are strikingly similar to the arguments of the New Economists of two decades ago.

In an international frame, Mr. Pincus presents an intriguing argument and one that casts light on the deep anger and revolutionary backlash we see in Africa and in poor nations around the world today. There are certainly other causes for problems in these countries, corruption being the most apparent, but the increase in poverty and misery caused by austerity policies cannot be denied. Here in the USA, one can argue that the small government policies so popular in the past 40 years have resulted in the greater economic inequality that we see today. Mr. Pincus makes the point that this is counter to the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

Unfortunately, "The Heart of the Declaration" is classed as a textbook and is thus not very visible on Amazon. It fares better on Barnes and Noble, but as I look online, I do not see any mention in important news outlets or blogs. It seems that the book has not been seen by the political writers on either side of the small government movement who might find it very exciting. As a textbook I suspect that "The Heart of the Declaration" is being lumped with all of those other liberal bleeding heart books arguing against austerity policies. Or even worse, tossed in the New Economics trash basket. Too bad.

Mr. Pincus, I urge you and Yale University Press to get your book out to a broader public. The ideas you present would have been an interesting sidenote to the current election. If, that is, the campaigns had actually been about ideas.

I received a review copy of "The Heart of the Declaration: The Founders Case for an Activist Government" by Steve Pincus (Yale University Press) through NetGalley.com.
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Dokfintong | Oct 15, 2016 |
Grand treatment of James II' rise and fall within the context of Gallican absolutism and Catholicism as well as the usual context of English politics. Pincus is a little bit too fond of tooting his own horn as well as repeating every key point as he move along but still a surprisingly easy read for a weighty volume. However, I'd recommend the non-scholar zip past the first two chapter which are mostly about interpretations of the Revolution and why any but his suck!
JaniceLiedl | Mar 31, 2013 |


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