James Madison and Multiculturalism, Liberty and the City, War and Peace

As September 17 was Constitution Day, I traveled with my colleagues John Samples and Amy Mitchell to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia (as one professor there said, “It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here”) to take part in their celebration of Constitution Day. John is the editor of James Madison and the Future of Limited Government, in which I have a chapter on “Madison and Multiculturalism.” John gave a talk comparing Madison with Theodore Roosevelt, with special attention to the different approaches Madison and Roosevelt would take to the prospect of war with Iraq; I spoke on Madison and multiculturalism, and defended the shocking idea that everyone should be considered equal before the law. Then it was back to D.C. for Cato’s Constitution Day conference and celebration, a radio interview on the topic with a Portland, Oregon radio station, and a presentation by Judge Douglas Ginsburg on the constitution.

I’m off tomorrow for a Liberty Fund conference on “Liberty and the City,” which revolves around quite interesting and challenging readings on the relationship of urban life to liberty. The conference is directed by Professor Steve Eagle of George Mason University’s law school. I’ve been interested in such matters for some time (think of the terms “civil society,” “civil liberty,” and “bourgeois society” and consider the relationship they all have to life in cities) and am looking forward to deepening my understanding of those issues. (Let me take a moment to plug an excellent book on that theme, The Voluntary City. It’s available from either Amazon.com or — for less — from LaissezFaireBooks.com. Years ago I suggested the book to my friend the historian David Beito; I can even take credit for the title. The essays in it are fascinating and make for a really good read.)

Then I’m back to D.C. for a few days before I head to Tempe, Arizona, to give two talks (“Liberty and Crisis” and “Property, Peace, and Progress: A Brief History of 2,000 Years) to newspaper editors from Freedom Communications, and then to the Cato Club 200 conference in Carmel, California, where I will make a short presentation on “War, Justice, and Law.”