Read Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism by Bill Kauffman Online


From "the finest literary stylist of the American right," a surprising and spirited account of how true conservatives have always been antiwar and anti-empire (Allan Carlson, author of The American Way) Conservatives love war, empire, and the military-industrial complex. They abhor peace, the sole and rightful property of liberals. Right? Wrong. As Bill Kauffman makes cleaFrom "the finest literary stylist of the American right," a surprising and spirited account of how true conservatives have always been antiwar and anti-empire (Allan Carlson, author of The American Way) Conservatives love war, empire, and the military-industrial complex. They abhor peace, the sole and rightful property of liberals. Right? Wrong. As Bill Kauffman makes clear, true conservatives have always resisted the imperial and military impulse: it drains the treasury, curtails domestic liberties, breaks down families, and vulgarizes culture. From the Federalists who opposed the War of 1812, to the striving of Robert Taft (known as "Mr. Republican") to keep the United States out of Korea, to the latter-day libertarian critics of the Iraq war, there has historically been nothing freakish, cowardly, or even unusual about antiwar activists on the political right. And while these critics of U.S. military crusades have been vilified by the party of George W. Bush, their conservative vision of a peaceful, decentralized, and noninterventionist America gives us a glimpse of the country we could have had--and might yet attain. Passionate and witty, Ain't My America is an eye-opening exploration of the forgotten history of right-wing peace movements--and a clarion manifesto for antiwar conservatives of today....

Title : Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780805082449
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism Reviews

  • Brian
    2019-03-29 09:58

    Total Stars = 4Entertainment: +1 Stars Education: +1 Star Readability: +1 star Innovation: +1 Stars Inspiration: +0 Stars A conservative that doesn't love war? That's crazy talk. Which is why I loved this book. Much as Milton Friedman laments the theft of the term liberal, Bill Kaufman laments the destruction of true conservative values by Neocons. Apparently the term liberal used to mean that liberals were all about taking other peoples money away, rather than taking it away from the rich to give to the poor as it does now.He makes a lot of great points about how Democrats have started mores wars than conservatives since WWII. As George Washington said we should avoid getting involved in other countries problems. The blood goes just as much on the Democrats as the Republicans. Apparently we forgot that or say that the world has changed too much. Maybe it is too late for us to turn back the clock entirely to the point where we could be isolationists again, but perhaps not running off starting unnecessary wars would be a good start.In a few cases he is willing to over look the flaws (racists) if the people he looks at we against getting in wars. Maybe that is going too far, or maybe we need to let a few things go and look at what we can agree on about where America needs to go. Bill’s points about war and how it is not a pro family institution for our troops and their families was well thought out and presented. The ideas are laid out in a way that may get people on the right to open up their minds. Maybe if they open up their minds they might notice that the values in their religion don't sync up with Neocon policies.Bill has a good, strong voice on what can unite Americans such as thinking small and local versus enormous and global. With thinking like this maybe we can bring the old time conservatives together with the progressives on common ground, rather than looking what divides them.If only the book were thicker with Conservatives against war, maybe we wouldn't be where we are today.

  • Stephen
    2019-04-19 11:36

    "You can have your hometown, or you can have the empire. You can't have both."You don't have to be a punk kid to rage against war. In fact, for most of American history, waging war in foreign quarters was considered radical -- not protesting it. The student war protesters of the 1970s were johnny-come latelys compared to the steady and historic denunciation of imperial adventures from more established quarters. Bill Kauffman's Ain't My America revisits a score of personalities -- politicians, poets, proles and potentates -- reviewing their stands against expansion, and warmongering from 1812 to the present, and concludes with a few arguments of his own. All the while he argues for a return to a homelier vision of America, a vision shared by this diverse multitude. The resulting narrative is a saucy challenge to today's conservatives, a reminder of a tradition which has been forgotten...and forgotten rather quickly.The American Republic was a new thing, an experiment, and for its first century of life its citizens well appreciated the fragility of it. They saw in every legislative novelty a peril to what had been created by the transformation of colonies into a Republic, whether that was Jefferson's extralegal acquisition of the Louisiana Territory, or Madison's war and those which followed. What unites the multitude of men here -- the speech-making politicians, the biting wits and mournful ballads of writers and poets -- is fear for the life of that Republic, imperiled by the prospect of expansion and war. Campaigns of glory and idealism, so dear to the hearts of presidents like Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson, threatened to corrupt a nation committed to harmony and peaceful discourse with all nations,into yet another state fallen from grace, forever brawling with its neighbors in the Old World fashion. America enjoys a providential situation, safeguarded from foreign invasion by ocean, with a continent bounding in resources. What need have we of wandering into other people's wars? The only fights are those we go abroad and pick.. The greater danger is that the American dream will be destroyed by the demands of war itself, through the centralization of authority, the militarization of society. The American constitution was written in part to check dreams of militarism, like the precautions against the power of a standing army.The evidence bears their fears out. What have been the fruits of participating in foreign wars? A president whose title of Commander in Chief expects to apply to all Americans, not simply those in the armed services; the wastage of million of lives, and incalculable resources; the intrusion of the central government into every aspect of American lives. Many aspects of the Empire in which we live were born during wartime: the income tax, for instance, conscription, and automatic withholding. Some wartime abuses heal over time, like the archfiend Wilson's loyalty campaigns. Imagine the hypocrisy of a man who runs for office on the slogan that he kept us out of the war, who then has war declared and imprisons people for so much as applauding an anti-war speech! War makes the nation itself a hypocrite, as it did in the late 19th century when the United States stretched its imperial wings over Cuba and the Phillipines, inciting a fight with Spain and pretending to be fighting for another people's liberation, and then waging war against those people when they declined acceptance into the "Empire of Liberty". War's ravages have been worse diplomatically: a region like the middle east, which once admired the United States as an amicable partner far different than the imperial English and Russians, now boils over with loathing for it. Every excursion, martial or secretively effected -- seems to lead to more, and the corruption of the military-industrial complex waxes worse and worse.These are not leftist criticisms; the Democratic party is no less the Party of War than modern Republicans, and indeed presidents like Wilson, Truman, and Johnson have been responsible for as much if not more overseas mischief than their 'rivals'. These are the criticisms of prudent men who had studied history, who absorbed its lessons into their very bones, and knew the United States was not so exceptional that it could defy the rule of human nature. Most of the criticism Kauffman collects focuses on war as a corrosive force, turning a Republic into an Empire, but in an additional section Kauffman throws his own punches. The bulwark of conservatism is defense of the family, which the military state destroys -- not merely by keeping young men abroad for months and years at a time, but by constantly shuffling military families around and denying them roots. The increase of men in uniform went hand in hand with rising divorce and juvenile delinquency, especially during World War 2. Denied the opportunity to invest in a local community, the only loyalty that can be mustered up by the family is to an abstraction -- the State. Imperialism bids the flag go where the Constitution cannot follow -- and, "severed from its staff, [waves] in any vagrant breeze".Ain't My America rebuts foreign excursion as it champions the local. Kauffman's America is a republic of front porches, a collection of intimate communities united by a common dream, but loyal firstly to their neighbors. Kauffman's America is the town, the countryside where we grew up, the places that nurture and support us -- the places that gain our affection and love through time, as do our homes. In the Republic, men and women are sustained by the connections, finding meaning in the work they do for and with their neighbors. Kauffman's America ain't the Empire. In the Empire, meaning is searched for from without -- embarking on crusades to "fight" terror or "make the world safe for democracy", each person and each community's character subsumed by the collective. It's a criticism not far from Chris Hedges' observation that "war is a force that gives us meaning".All this history and scathing commentary is rendered in Bill Kauffman's singular style. If Wendell Berry's defense of the local is rendered in a grandfatherly fashion, in tones of warm comfort, Kauffman is more of a slightly rebellious uncle, the kind who is willing to stay up past three a.m. rattling off colorful stories. There is much color to be hand in Kauffman's vocabulary, not necessarily profanity. Kauffman is a colorful character himself, who describes himself as the lovechild of Dorothy Day and Henry David Thoreau, a wild spirit with the blood of Crazy Horse and Zora Neal Hurston in his veins. His expressions are his own, energetic and archaic, like "fossicking about in tramontane sinkholes". He threatens the reader with his own poetry, and in a section hailing Grover Cleveland as the 19th century's sole classical liberal, begins "let us now praise corpulent men". The book rebounds with an affectionate wit, often barbed. After recounting the life of a Congressional solon named Hoar, who a contemporary thought would be celebrated in statuary for standing against imperialism, Kauffman notes "Alas, the statues are all dedicated to Har's homonyms."What a piece of work is Kauffman, and an eye-opening piece of work this is! Kauffman's style and championing of the little way give him considerable appeal both in what he says and his delivery thereof. He is funny and rebuking, a man of no party and wholly genuine. Ain't my America succeeds as a reminder of what the American experiment was -- is -- at its best, and as a scattering of birdshot fired at our aviary of warhawks on the Potomac.Related:We Who Dared Say No to War, ed. Murray Polner and Tom Woods. Even more sweeping, this collects anti-war speeches, essays, and songs throughout the Republic's history. It covers more anti-war motives than Kauffman's localism. Weapons of Satire: Anti-Imperialistic Writings, Mark TwainLook Homeward, America: in Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front Porch Anarchists,Bill Kauffman

  • Don Incognito
    2019-03-23 07:42

    Ain't My America is a fascinating and valuable book; it will remain on my shelf. One can often tell when a book held my attention by (if I own it) the frequency of underlining in it. Well, the amount of ink I expended on this book is enormous; there is a word, a sentence or an entire paragraph underlined at least once, usually much more, on every page. Some pages are a mess of smeared ink.I have probably never encountered an author who shows off his extensive vocabulary this much. The late William F. Buckley looks like Beavis in comparison. I'm not sure what to make of this, though. On one hand, if you have an extensive vocabulary, why wouldn't you use it; on the other hand, I know too many jerks already who use archaic words just to show off how smart they think they are.Kauffman is obnoxious in a way much more bvious that that. He's smug, snide and insulting in commenting on the thinkers or politicians he deems militaristic; it makes him come off as self-righteous and self-assured. The passive-aggressive rebelliousness (not anger, notably) is simmering beneath every line. At some point I thought and even wrote in a margin, "What is this jerk's problem?" I know what it is: besides being a pacifist and strong localist, Kauffman has anarchist or anarcho-libertarian sympathies that I can't relate to. One figures that out more from reading about him and observing his book titles than reading what he says in Ain't My America; the book has nothing to do with anarcho-libertarian political ideas. It doesn't necessarily make his viewpoints look good, and worse, makes me more reluctant to read his other books.

  • The American Conservative
    2019-04-11 07:32

    'Bill Kauffman writes prose—history, novels, journalism—but he is a poet and a prophet. His task in Ain’t My America is to remind us of who we are: a Republic, not an empire, a nation of families and towns, not barracks and bases. Kauffman writes to restore conservatives to their senses. No more war, please. Remember your ancestors. Remember Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet. What has passed for the Right since the Cold War isn’t right in any sense, and Kauffman sets out to prove it.'Read the full review, "Fewer Bases, More Baseball," on our website:

  • Seth
    2019-03-31 15:34

    I am starting to get a broader understanding of what true conservatism is, historically and philosophically, and this book served as one more little nudge away from mainstream neoconservative-influenced politics. Kauffman argues that true conservatism is anti-war, anti-intervention, pro-family, pro-decentralization of power. The conservatives he drags up from American history don't fit the typical mold, but show that things were not always how they are today. As eye-opening as Kauffman's ideas and arguments are, my main problem was that I just could not connect with his writing style. It probably took me twice as long to read this as it should have because of the effort required to digest and follow his sentence structure.

  • Michael
    2019-04-21 10:38

    Note: My political views have changed a lot since writing this review, but I do still think this is an interesting book with a lot of good points to make, and I wanted to preserve my earlier thoughts. This book, as well as Ron Paul's Revolution, completely redefined my political philosophy. Before both, I thought of myself as a liberal, but upon reading Paul's manifesto and, moreso, Kauffmann's history of anti-war conservative thought, I realized that the values I actually hold are more accurately described by the terms "conservative," "libertarian," and, even better for its hearkening to the Old Right and for its mirroring opposition to the neocons, "paleoconservative". Kauffmann shows that true conservatism holds the position of the founding fathers, to not become involved in foreign wars or alliances, to maintain our Republic as an example. He explores the anti-war and anti-imperialistic thought that has characterized traditional conservatism ever since the War of 1812. Though at times verbose, Ain't My America is delightfully dissenting, well-read and well-informed, and above all eye-opening. It is a staunch rejection of current establishment politics and a lonely cry in the wilderness for a return to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and Main Street America: a glorification of the small, the local, the humble, the rooted, and the traditional. I can't recommend this book enough.

  • Kevin Summers
    2019-03-22 13:38

    Bill Kauffman is one of my favorite political writers and I have read two of his other books. Ain't My America is written in Kauffman's typically iconoclastic style (and it doesn't have as many swear words as Bye Bye, Miss American Empire). LOL.Sample quote: "Since the nation is always and forever the enemy of the local, the traditional, and the small, the conservative, if she wishes to 'conserve' anything beyond Irving Berlin songs and Betty Grable DVDs, must 'feel' not nationally but locally, on a scale that permits her to know her countrymen not as abstractions but as neighbors. And one does not send neighbors halfway 'round the world to kill and die for 'democracy,' 'human rights,' or 'freedom.'"

  • Kenneth
    2019-04-02 14:47

    Good book on classical anti-war politicking. What is important about the book, I think, is that the anti-war position has not just been the cause of hippy peace-niks historically, but rather is tied to an established pedigree in America with a long tradition. Since Washington's farewell address the anti-war isolationist stance was in fact the most respectable opinion in America. That changed with World War I and then more so with World War II. Still, the argument from tradition is an effective argument with educated conservatives who understand history. Kauffman is an ironical writer who is a bit polemical, but entertaining to read sometimes for just that reason.

  • Benjamin Glaser
    2019-04-07 11:46

    This book is really well written, not many 238-page books can I sit down and read in 6 hours time. The context of the book is also really well done. This work crystallizes a lot of my own thoughts and helped me to realize that what I consider to be wise U.S. foreign policy has a long pedigree going back to some of the founders themselves. One of the highlights of the book to me was the author's chapter length discussion on why militarism and a neo-con foreign policy is anti-family and anti-conservative.

  • Jack
    2019-04-11 13:02

    In which Bill Kauffman exalts a parade of New Leftists, John Birchers, white supremacists, mainstream mavericks, and assorted oddballs for their anti-war & anti-imperialist political activities. The end result is enlightening and entertaining from start to finish, but I'm docking one star because Kauffman describes beautiful San Diego, California as -- get this -- a "soulless hellhole".

  • Kevin
    2019-04-16 11:52

    Expertly shows why the two party system leaves many valid points of view out of the national conversation in America. Kauffman shows that conservatives have not always been fundamentalist evangelical war hawks, and that social liberalism can be reconciled with economic conservatism.

  • Peter
    2019-03-23 10:46

    Great book. I was always skeptical if the warmongering Bush. But I've always thought that republicans support war and increased military spending all the time. From reading this book, i've realized that there was a time when republicans weren't crazy and did not support stupid unecessay wars.

  • William
    2019-03-29 11:35

    A great discussion of how Americans used to know, and some still do, that war does not conserve, it destroys.

  • Larry
    2019-04-02 08:57

    I gave up after a chapter. This author is so impressed with his vocabulary it makes the book unreadable for those of us with only a masters degree.

  • James
    2019-04-20 07:39

    To be a true conservative has always meant being against the wars of empire. Lots of good history here, with interesting sketches and quotes of people and groups we should not have forgotten.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-26 16:02

    I liked it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Sam
    2019-03-24 11:48

    Empire is seductive. If it weren't, this is what American conservatism would look like.