How Americans Are Losing Both Freedom AND Security: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
June 6, 2007

How Americans Are Losing Both Freedom AND Security
New Book Examines the Forces and Fear that Drive Government Intrusion and War

“Higgs’s account of how fear is manipulated to produce political objectives is both stimulating and deeply troubling.”
Lloyd C. Gardner, Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History, Rutgers University

OAKLAND, Calif., June 6, 2007—"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1755. In Neither Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government (June 2007 / The Independent Institute / $15.95), economist and historian Robert Higgs illustrates the false trade-off between freedom and security by showing how the U.S. government’s economic and military interventions have reduced the civil and economic liberties, prosperity, and genuine security of Americans.

In this sequel to his critically acclaimed book, Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs begins by examining a fundamental issue pertaining to freedom and security: fear. He shows how purposeful fear-mongering has been used to expand government intrusiveness with the use of “crises,” from World War I to the Great Depression to the Cold War to the “War on Terror.” Fear, says Higgs, grounds nearly everything that governments do, including their manipulation of public opinion. Social scientists studying the growth of government usually neglect the role of fear, crisis, and ideological change, Higgs points out, and often rely on flawed statistics (e.g., government spending as a share of GDP) that fall far short of measuring the actual extent of government involvement in the economy and in people’s personal lives.

Higgs then looks at the economic policies implemented during World War I and the decade that followed, which set the stage for the onset of the Depression. Although the United States was on the winning side of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, Americans ended up with fewer liberties than they had before the wars, says Higgs. “Every year, on Veterans Day, orators declare that our leaders have gone to war to preserve our freedoms and have done so with glorious success, but the truth is just the opposite,” writes Higgs. “In ways big and small, direct and indirect, crude and subtle, war—the quintessential government activity—has been the mother’s milk for the nourishment of a growing tyranny in this country, and it remains so today.”

Neither Liberty Nor Safety also examines the ongoing growth of government since World War II. Since the early 20th century, long-term structural changes, the enduring effects of great “national emergencies,” and collectivist-leaning ideological changes have promoted the formation of political interest groups, each seeking to use government power to promote its ends at the expense of the general public. Other advance democracies have also succumbed to the same destructive tendencies, Higgs shows, resulting in governments larger and more destructive of their citizens’ liberties than most social scientists recognize.

Praise for Neither Liberty Nor Safety

“Higgs’s thesis is as persuasive as it is chilling: an increasing and unthinking reliance on government has made us look to politicians and bureaucrats to solve all our problems.”
Michael C. Munger, Professor of Political Science, Duke University

Neither Liberty Nor Safety is an important addition to Robert Higgs’s systematic analysis of the political uses of fear-mongering. The cancerous growth of the modern ‘guardian’ state—uncontrolled by a ‘higher power’—is our generation’s legacy: future generations will have to control it, submit to it, or escape from it.”
Thomas S. Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse

“. . . thoroughly historically informed and engaging . . . distinct from most political orthodoxies of all stripes.”
Martin L. Cook, Professor of Philosophy, U.S. Air Force Academy

Neither Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology and the Growth of Government
By Robert Higgs
Published by The Independent Institute
June 2007 | Softcover | 205 pages | $15.95 | ISBN 978-1-59813-012-6

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