Table of Contents
Part I. Framework
Chapter 1. The Sources of Big Government: A Critical Survey of Hypotheses
Explanations of the Growth of Government
Modernization/Public Goods/The Welfare State/Political
Chapter 2. How Much Has Government Grown? Conventional Measures and an Alternative View
Conventional Measures of the Growth of Government
The Essence of Big Government: An Alternative View
Ratchets: Conventional Measures versus Fundamentals
Chapter 3. On Ideology as an Analytical Concept in the Study of Political Economy
What Is Ideology?
Ideology and Political Action
Ideology in Analysis
Ideology and Rhetoric
Ideology: Exogenous or Endogenous?
Chapter 4. Crisis, Bigger Government, and Ideological Change: Toward an Understanding of the Ratchet
A Schematic View of the Problem
Why Stage II? A Cost-Concealment Hypothesis
Why State IV? A (Partial) Hypothesis on Ideological Change
Recapitulation: Why the Ratchet?
The Task Ahead
Part II. History
Chapter 5. Crisis Under the Old Regime, 1893-1896
Creative Destruction Ideologically Sustained, 1865-1893
Depression and Social Unrest, 1893-1896
Serving the Gold Standard
Maintaining Law and Order in the Labor Market
Striking Down the Income Tax
Chapter 6. The Progressive Era: A Bridge to Modern Times
Economic Development and Political Change, 1898-1916
The Ideological Winds Shift
End and Beginning: The Railroad Labor Troubles, 1916-1917
Chapter 7. The Political Economy of War, 1916-1918
Neutral Prosperity and the Shipping Crisis
The Preparedness Controversy and New Governmental Powers
War and Conscription
Manipulating the Market Economy: The Major Agencies
Labor Problems and the Railroad Takeover
Supreme Court Rulings on War Measures
Legacies, Institutional and Ideological
Chapter 8. The Great Depression: âAn Emergency More Serious Than Warâ
Economic Rise and Fall, 1922-1933
What Did Hoover Do?
Interregnum of Despair
Planting the First New Deal: The Hundred Days
Cultivating and Pruning the First New Deal: The Supreme Court
Legacies, Institutional and Ideological
Chapter 9. The Political Economy of War, 1940-1945
De Jure Neutrality, De Factor Belligerency, 1939-1941
More Powers and Price Controls
The Armed Forces and the Economy
Work or Fight
The Supreme Court Also Goes to War
Legacies, Institutional and Ideological
Chapter 10. Crisis and Leviathan: From World War II to the 1980s
The Mixed Economy: March into Socialism or Fascism?
Crisis and Leviathan: The Recent Episodes
Chapter 11. Retrospect and Prospect
Crisis and Leviathan is a book of major importance, thoroughly researched, closely argued, and meticulously documented. It should be high on the reading list of every serious student of the American political system.
Political Science Quarterly
Crisis and Leviathan is an important, powerful, and profoundly disturbing book.
James M. Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Journal of Economic History
By focusing on certain critical episodes in American history, Robert Higgs has documented the remarkable and alarming growth of Big Government. His ambitious work covers the subject in great detail and in a way that will appeal to both scholars and a more general audience. . . . The conclusion of Higgss analysis is a thoughtful but disturbing view of American prospects. Whether traditional constitutional restraints or the unique operation of a mixed economy can avert what he and others fear as a march into socialism or fascism no one knows. As we consider the future, Higgs offers enlightenment if not optimism.
Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr., Professor of History, State University of New York, Albany
Insightful, compelling, and clear, Higgs breaks new ground in explicating the most important socio-political trend of our timethe growth of American government.
What is most exciting and intriguing about Crisis and Leviathan is that Higgs is now working within the tradition of economic history exemplified by Schumpeter and Polanyi. Like them, and unlike the new economic historians, Higgs refuses to treat political, cultural, or ideological aspects of historical reality as irrelevant to the study of economic development.
Reviews in American History
Crisis and Leviathan is a thoughtful and challenging work.
How big government gets that way: It takes over new turf in time of crisis, then hangs on to much of it after the crisis is over.
That big government grew from crises is not a new idea, but just how that happened is an astounding story, and the superb account that Higgs gives of that process may come as something of a shock to his readers.
Jonathan R. T. Hughes, Professor of Economics, Northwestern University
Crisis and Leviathan is a blockbuster of a book, one of the most important of the last decade. It is that wondrous and rare combination: scholarly and hard-hitting, lucid and libertarian as well.
Robert Higgs is a first-rate economist and economic historian who sets out a provocative thesisâ"namely, that governments exploit crises (real and fabricated) as excuses to grow and to strip people of their wealth and liberties. In Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs skillfully and carefully tests this thesis against history. The thesis stands. Governments do indeed exploit crises as opportunities to confiscate ever-greater powers. After each crisis, the amount of power recently added to governments stock might shrink somewhat, but very seldom back to what it was prior to the crisis. This is one of the most important and compelling books published during the 1980s.
Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
I can think of no more important reading than Crisis and Leviathan, aside from the Constitution itself.
The American Spectator
I just read Crisis and Leviathan. Wonderful work! I will try to stem the tide of emergency on Capitol Hill with your inspiration!
Michael Spence, U. S. Congressman
The most masterful and persuasive treatment of the role of war in making big government bigger and liberty less secure is Robert Higgss book, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government. Times of crisis, including economic depressions but mainly wars, give governments license to invoke numerous emergency powers. After the crisis or war is over government power recedes somewhat, but never to its previous, more limited size or scope.
Orange County Register
Crisis and Leviathan
is a blockbuster of a book, one of the most important of the last decade. It is that rare and wondrous combination: scholarly and hard-hitting, lucidly written and libertarian as well. To Professor Higgs, being thorough and erudite does not mean timorously qualifying every statement, or torpidly and "judiciously" picking one's way through the minefields of ideology. Higgs's depth and breadth of learning has only intensified his commitment to truth, liberty, and the identification its enemies. Robert Higgs, a noted economic historian, set about to answer a longstanding and vital question: why has the State grown so ominously in power in the United States during the 20th century? Why did we begin as a quasi-laissez-faire country in the 19th century and end up in our current mess? What were the processes of change? . . . One great accomplishment of Professor Higgs is to vindicate the role of ideas in history; more specifically, the role of ideology in bringing about statism in the 20th century. He has rescued the discipline of economic history from the Chicago variant of economic determinism. But this is scarcely all. For in virtually every free-market economist of our time, there is one great big hole, one big gap in his critique of statism: war. War is sacrosanct, considered necessary, inevitable, and good; and so while free-market economists will devote a great deal of energy to the evils of government intervention in oil, or forestry, or the retail trade, there is little or nothing said about the horrors and distortions imposed by the Pentagon and the war-making Leviathan State. In Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs identifies war as the critical key to the growth of statism, making his achievement all the more remarkable. . . . Not the least of the joys of Crisis and Leviathan
is the love of liberty and the hatred of its enemies that shines through the scholarly apparatus of the book. . . . What a treasure, then, when an erudite scholar and distinguished economic historian such as Robert Higgs, conveys a passionate intensity in favor of liberty and against the depredations of the State! . . . We live in an age of outrageous hype, when publishers and book dealers tout every other book in print as "the greatest of all time." So what are we to do when a book of genuine greatness comes along? I say this about very few books: make this your top priority this year; rush out and read the book. And then proclaim it throughout the land.
Murray N. Rothbard
, late S.J. Hall Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Nevada, Las Vegas