In This Review

By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission
By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission
By Charles Murray
Crown, 2015, 336 pp

For readers seeking to understand the antiestablishment rage fueling the right-wing populism of today’s Republican Party, Murray’s book serves as an indispensable introduction. In articulating a conservative vision of limited government, Murray emphasizes how entrenched interest groups have exploited weaknesses in legislative, regulatory, and electoral processes to produce a state that has grown inexorably larger, less efficient, and more corrupt. He strengthens the force of his polemic by pointing mostly to examples of Republican corruption and Republican surrenders to special interests. Murray argues that the rot has gone so far that it cannot be halted by conventional means, and he recommends a strategy of selective civil disobedience to limit the reach and power of the regulatory state. As the country finds itself gripped by a wave of transformational economic change, Murray seeks a path for domestic reform that can appeal to the political center as well as Tea Party populists. (His book briefly but approvingly cites some of my own writings on these themes.) Few American writers understand the forces that drive Republican discontent as well as Murray; this book is the best available guide to the next stage of U.S. politics.