Daniel Hannan's book is a timely and refreshing reminded of how the unelected Eurocracy has ridden roughshod over democracy. His historical sense is generally good: our involvement in Europe has always been bad news for Britain. Our institutions and so different, and what he says about the importance and uniqueness of the "Anglosphere" is very valid. The only criticism I have is that he does not recognise (and perhaps does not know much about) the inventors of democracy, i.e. ancient Athens. It is interesting to think that today's internet would permit universal and direct online voting on all issues by the citizens of our vast modern states and thus reinstitute the full democracy of the ancient Greek city-state, when all the citizens met to vote on everything after listening to the views of the politicians.
I have lived half my life in Australia and half in London. I love both these countries and also the USA where, to my misfortune, I have been only rarely. The preamble to the Declaration of Independence is the closest thing I have to a creed. So, you will gather that I was predisposed to this book. The difference that it has made to me is that now I absolutely KNOW that the Anglosphere is worth fighting for. In the broad of things, I am utterly unimportant. But I am going to do what I can to keep alive the values that people, much greater than I, have died for. And I'm going to find a way to meet Daniel Hannan, so I can shake his hand. (Note my copy is an E-Book download from Amazon)
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I was advised on this publication by a facebook friend. It might be somewhat confusing, idealistic and arguable in content, but it is supporting to some extent my own arguments concerning the Norman Invasion, and its consequences on English life since Saxon times.
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Erudite, Provocative, Counterintuitive24 Nov 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Daniel Hannan is clearly on the side of the principles that made the English-speaking countries bastions of stable government - foremost, the rule of law. First, there were principles - individual rights, private property, representative government - then institutions that enshrined and enforced these principles. Why is it that England and its former colonies have governments that represent the people to a greater or lesser degree, while the former colonies of France and Spain are unstable autocracies cloaked in the figleaf of a constitution ignored in practice? Why is England stable, while Peru is not? It takes a book to answer the question, and Hannan begins with the orgins of the rule of law in ancient England. The invading Normans adopted the nascent institutions of the Anglo-Saxons and began to think of themselves as English. What he calls the two civil wars are recounted in fascinating detail - the first being the English Glorious Revolution of 1688, the second the American revolution, which Hannan considers not a revolution by Americans against the British, but a civil war in which the colonies viewed themselves British and the English rulers as violating the colonies' rights as British subjects. Each chapter is considered in historical detail, overturning many received assumptions. The chapter on Anglobalization examines in turn the nations of the United Kingdom and the interesting case of India. Always, Hannan is enlightening and erudite. You can learn much from reading this book, and it's a keeper on my bookshelf.
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
The Libertarian Conscience of the Anglosphere1 Dec 2013
Alan F. Sewell
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Author Daniel Hannan is a person of English ancestry who was born and raised in Peru then relocated to the United Kingdom as an adult and made a career in politics, including becoming one of the U.K.'s representatives to the European Parliament. His global experience has shown him how unique is our "Anglosphere" heritage of representative democracy, protection of property rights, the sanctity of law, and the inalienable rights of the individual.
These values are imbedded so deeply in our culture that they have become part of our subconscious. Because we take them for granted, we often forget to value them as being the foundation of our liberty and prosperity.
I've also lived and worked around the world and have also come to a similar appreciation. English-derived culture and law IS unique in its protection of individual liberty and property rights. The Napoleonic-derived law that governs Continental Europe and its former Latin American Colonies assumes that in criminal matters the accused is guilty until proven innocent. It assumes that individuals have no natural rights to liberty, but are only licensed certain rights by the state. As a result, human rights and property rights are severely constrained.
For example, Latin America, which inherited Spanish and Portuguese law, does not permit individual ownership of subsurface mineral rights such as oil or gold. ALL subsurface wealth belongs to the state. These countries do not have independent judiciaries that are empowered to invalidate unconstitutional edicts of the government. Any judge in Latin America who rules against the wishes of the government risks being deposed and imprisoned. Most of these countries have not amounted to much either in terms of freedom or prosperity.
Hannan goes into interesting detail explaining the specifics of how the English developed their deeply ingrained respect for human rights and property rights and then transmitted that culture to its overseas colonies of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and (arguably) India. Here are a couple of excellent quotes among many:
============= The foundation of the British Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of ignorance and suspicion but in an epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any other former period. --GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1783 =============
============= It is true that each people has a special character independent of its political interest. One might say that America gives the most perfect picture, for good or ill, of the special character of the English race. The American is the Englishman left to himself. --ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, 1840 =============
Like the British we Americans have had incessant conflicts over how best to balance the desire for individual liberty with the necessity to conform to national laws. How far should we go in decentralizing our government into small units of state and local governments, which are most responsive to the people, and how much authority should we retain in the national government?
We have been fighting over those issues of centralization vs. states rights from the time the Constitution was ratified (the Constitution's strong national government was OPPOSED by many of the original Patriots) through the Civil War and on down to the present "Tea Party Revolt."
Hannan provides a thorough grounding of how these issues developed throughout British history, including that murky time before 1776 when the territory that later became the USA was governed from England and took part in its civil wars and political intrigues.
Hannan also discusses some important questions about how the nations within the "Anglosphere" should affiliate with each other:
1. Should the United Kingdom distance itself from the centralizing tendencies of the European Union, which it has little in common with in law or culture, and strengthen economic and political ties with its "Anglosphere partners" in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand?
2. And what about India, the giant of the English-speaking world, that will soon be the most populous country in the world (at well over a billion people), and with a dynamic, fast-growing economy, that may become one of the world's largest. Should we embrace India as an "Anglosphere" country on a par with England, the USA, Canada, etc. and engage it with free trade and facilitated immigration of Indians who would like to relocate to the other countries?
These are timely issues that all of us in the "Anglosphere" should be carefully considering.
I do have to fault the book on a couple of lesser points. One is that Hannan seems to be extremely well educated about every part of the world EXCEPT the United States. In my opinion his lack of complete knowledge of American history leads him to innocently mischaracterize the motives of the American Revolution. He takes the revisionist tack that the American Revolution was a manifestation of an English Civil War between the King's opponents and supporters. He throws cold water on the view that our revolution had anything to do with a nationalist desire to form an independent country.
That is an over-simplified view because American nationalists, who wanted the Thirteen Colonies to become an independent sovereign Republic, were prolific writers on that very subject decades before the Revolution broke out in 1775. This view doesn't detract any from the main ideas that Hannan wants to get across, but my antennae went up when I read his take on the American Revolution.
The book leaves us with the question: How do we of the Anglosphere maintain the precious heritage of human rights and property rights that the British instilled in our culture? The constantly improving means of communications and control seem to be centralizing power in national governments and leaving the state and county governments to wither on the vine. The American "Teaparty Movement" is confronting that issue at this very moment. They are particularly incensed by the federalization of healthcare and by the ever-rising taxes needed to pay for that and other exploding social welfare programs instigated by the national government.
If this is a question that interests you as a liberty-loving person, then you need to read this book in order to obtain a solid grounding on how our culture of human rights and property rights originated. Fish who live in the water don't miss it until they're taken out of it. This book will educate you on how to appreciate the ocean of liberty we swim in and what we would lose if it were ever taken away.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Liberty Leads to Strength and Prosperity2 Dec 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
In the last few years, Daniel Hannan has been recognized all over the English-speaking world as one of the most eloquent voices for freedom. In 2010 he implored Americans to reject European-style social democracy in The New Road to Serfdom, and now in "Inventing Freedom" Hannan provides a history of English-speaking liberty and shows how it was instrumental in creating the world we live in today.
Hannan lists regular elections, habeas corpus, free contract, equality before the law, open markets, freedom of press and religion, and jury trials as the freedoms that have flourished in the English-speaking world and shows how those freedoms have been responsible for the stupendous prosperity of the previous couple of centuries. He also describes how even the English language promotes freedom, how a Protestant political culture has survived in Anglosphere countries that have seen a decline in religious observance, and how the capitalist system traduced by many is in fact the most moral economic system ever devised.
While many think that Anglo-Saxon liberties are traceable to the Magna Carta, Hannan traces these freedoms all the way back to tenth-century England and reveals why liberty originally flourished there instead of on the Continent. The book recalls how the Norman invasion of 1066 was a terrible setback, but that the Magna Carta of 1215, Glorious Revolution of 1688, and U.S. Constitution of 1787 were restorations of freedoms and liberties English-speakers had known before 1066.
Hannan asserts that both the English Civil War and the American Revolution were civil wars within the Anglosphere and that the two conflicts were fought over largely the same issues--the book contains lengthy chapters remembering each. The ultimate resolutions of both, the Glorious Revolution and U.S. Constitution, were the foundation of the success and prosperity the Anglosphere has known in recent centuries.
The author also looks at the Anglosphere nations of Ireland, Canada, Australia, and India, and also touches on slavery--he notes that while slavery was practiced all over the world it was the English-speaking nations that successfully saw it eradicated and discusses why that was so.
Hannan closes by looking at the state of the Anglosphere today. He sadly observes that the principles that led to our preeminence are being abandoned today, and it is hard to disagree. After a look at the trend lines in regard to size of government, tax rates, freedom of speech, and other traditional liberties, we seem free only relative to the rest of the world, and negative liberties and negative rights seem to be viewed with increasing suspicion whenever they aren't viewed with outright disdain. "Inventing Freedom" is a worthy history of liberty and a call for citizens of the Anglosphere to reclaim the freedoms and heritage that made their nations strong and great.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Every American should read this book.25 Nov 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished the introduction of the book. I will write more later, but I wanted to say that every American should be taught the introduction of this book in high school. It is simply wonderful and I have read nothing like it anywhere else. In the USA, the current crop of educators tend to try to make the English, Western world an evil thing; this is the antidote. We live in a world built by the English and that fact should be broadcast loud and clear.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Recommended Highly28 Jan 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Having just finished reading "Inventing Freedom", I can only say that I recommend, without hesitation, its reading to everyone--especially to those who have but a marginal understanding as to why it is that the people of the English speaking world have achieved the highest standard of living ever known in the history of mankind. As an attorney for the past forty years, I have been keenly aware that the freedoms we enjoy in the United States were formed in England. And that we are the beneficiaries of that 1000-year historical legacy. But never before have I been made aware of the myriad of details of that historical evolution so well as is done by this book. Daniel Hannan's thesis is that the freedoms we enjoy today are the direct result of a unique character trait of the Anglo-Saxons that exalted freedom of the individual above the power of the King, and which pre-dated the Norman Conquest. And it is the strength of that character trait, in advocates down through the ages, that has given us what we enjoy today. I find his thesis, based upon the plethora of historical facts which he presents, together with my own experiences in life, compelling.
I stumbled upon this book in Barnes & Noble quite by accident--and wound up reading the entire 17-page Introduction while standing there in the aisle. The Introduction contains the statement, "Once people are in a position to set the rules, they tend to rig the rules in their own favor." That statement comported with what I had seen in my career working in, and looking at, government. I said "This guy's on to something" and decided to buy the book. I was not disappointed.
In reading the book, however, one does need to keep a large dictionary by their side. Despite eight years of college and forty years a lawyer, Hannan's vocabulary far exceeds mine. Once I viewed each new word (on average every page or two) as an opportunity to expand my own vocabulary, I became more comfortable with the frequent interruptions as I reached for the dictionary to look up the meaning of each "hitherto unknown to me" word.
I give the book 4 stars, rather than 5, only because the book would be significantly improved by the use of footnotes (or endnotes)--of which there are none. Although Hannan does frequently quote historical figures, and authors of historical treatises, the book, in its 377 pages, cites a nearly infinite number of historical facts, the vast majority of which are stated without any supporting authority whatsoever. Hannan does hold a degree in History from Oxford. And one would therefore presume that he knows what he is talking about and is accurately relating those historical facts. But this is the type of historical work that would benefit greatly from the inclusion of footnotes, citing his sources for the facts stated in the text, so that those readers who are so inclined could independently verify those facts. We are, you know, talking about things that happened sometimes 1200 years ago. I say this because, judging by the reviews that have preceded mine, Hannan is, in large part, "preaching to the choir". It is not the believers that need to be convinced of the accuracy of his thesis, but the non-believers. Footnotes, in supporting the author's statements of facts, would thereby have a tendency to also support the conclusions of his thesis.
It would also have been nice if he could have explained to us Yanks what is meant by his "double first in history". But that can be figured out by anyone who is truly obsessive in needing to know the answer.