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Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027

Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959

March 5, 2002

Freedom Book of the Month for February, 2002

People who detest and fear police states praise The State vs The People:

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Freedom Book of the Month for February, 2002:

The State vs. The People
by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman

Mazel Freedom Press 2001
paperback, 557 pp.

I'm not sure if a country has ever needed a book like The State vs. The People as much as America needs it right now.

I'm not trying to be hyperbolic. I acknowledge that there is debate, even among libertarians, on the merits of various security measures taken since the terror attacks of last September. People on both sides of these issues should be able to agree that there are valid concerns for civil liberties involved.

The State vs. The People is the first book-length collaboration between libertarian firebrand Claire Wolfe (101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution, Don't Shoot the Bastards -- Yet, etc.) and Aaron Zelman, executive director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (The Mitzvah, Hope, Death by "Gun Control"). To characterize both writers as staunch defenders of individual liberty versus state power would be a gross understatement.

In this book, Wolfe and Zelman attempt to come to grips with exactly what a police state is, drawing on historical example to define the idea and isolate specific elements that comprise such a state.

The conclusions -- whether drawn by the reader or explicitly stated in the book -- are chilling.

Wolfe and Zelman differentiate "traditional" and "totalitarian" police states from a third type which they call the "modern authoritarian police state." This third type is defined by an increasingly powerful executive branch versus other institutions of governance, and by increasing power of government as a whole. The power to make and enforce law is shifted, more and more, into the hands of executive branch bureaucracies which are not accountable to the people but which, more and more, function as de facto legislatures.

The modern authoritarian police state isn't built, like the "traditional" police state, on Enlightenment notions of improving the population's lot and ensuring the military security of the state; nor does its rationale resemble that of the "totalitarian" police state which is predicated on forcing a populace to adopt an idea (Communism, for example) as a quasi-religion.

The modern authoritarian police state isn't built. It grows organically, feeding on the fears of a society and transforming those fears into incremental, concrete measures that, over time, become tyranny. Fear of crime is exploited and turned into "gun control" measures. Fear of terrorism is exploited and turned into demands for identification schemes. Fear of drugs is exploited and turned into no-knock raids, mandatory minimum sentencing and "war."

If you're beginning to see the United States in this description, you're not alone. As J.D. Tuccille puts it, the book provides "compelling evidence that the 'free world' increasingly maintains only the facade of liberty, cloaking an iron-fisted reality."

Different readers will find themselves in agreement or disagreement with Wolfe and Zelman on different points, or in their level of concern over different issues, especially with regard to the chapter on the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. We ignore this fine book and its analyis of history and current events, however, at our peril.

Order The State vs. The People from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership -- $19.95 postpaid.

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This review is on the web at


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