December 18th, 2014 // 6:47 am @ Oliver DeMille
From the desk of Rachel DeMille….
Oliver writes a lot, and has published many popular and successful books. But from my vantage point, I could see that his upcoming book is very, very different from all the rest – especially in his mind. I’ve watched Oliver’s intensity and anticipation regarding this work, and wanted to give you a peek into the author’s point of view. He consented to a brief interview…
Rachel: What do you want people to know about your new book, The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom?
Oliver: [Chuckles quietly; then grows silent for a moment] This is the book. This is The One. I’ve been working on it for over two decades. It’s ready now, and it can change the world in powerful ways.
Rachel: So you would call it your “Magnum Opus”?
Oliver: Absolutely. Without question. These 196 Principles are not articulated so concisely or collected as such in any other work or body of work that I know of, and I consider them absolutely vital to the future of freedom in our time.
Rachel: I can see why you feel so strongly about this book. How did it come about?
An Important Disagreement
Oliver: To begin, I knew I was deeply moved about the cause freedom when I was very young—well before high school. During those early years my focus was on soaking up as many principles and ideas about freedom as I could. I heard W. Cleon Skousen speak in person on freedom when I was in high school, and I read his book The Making of America. As I listened to him, I knew I’d found my life’s mission.
Sometime shortly after this, the way I studied freedom took a turn. In my readings and as I attended classes, I realized something important: Not only is there a great debate in our society about whether or not we really want to emphasize freedom, but there are also some substantive disagreements about what does or does not promote freedom.
Rachel: That disagreement seems like a pivotal one.
Oliver: Absolutely. And understanding that disagreement reframes the debate over good policy and bad, current events, laws, appointments, regulations, elections, etc. It affects everything in our society.
With this understanding, I started a special file. Every time I came across an indispensable principle of freedom—something that is vital for freedom to flourish, something that directly causes decline when we don’t apply it—I copied it and kept it. I also included quotes and sources that supported these principles. Over the years the file grew into a shoebox, then a bigger box, then a file cabinet. Many of these notes are hand written in the margins and blank spaces of books from many genres.
What They Knew
Rachel: Clearly you’re not publishing a file cabinet full of notes…? How did you distill it down?
Oliver: No – and this is why it has taken me years to write it. I wanted to know as much as Jefferson and Madison about government, history, law, political economy, and freedom. Not in the modern academic sense of narrow specialization, but in the Founding Fathers model of broad and truly deep understanding. That’s a tall order, no doubt. It’s one many of us are still working on. It’s a lifetime calling. But our generation needs such people: Regular people who truly pay the price to study and understand freedom at the level the Founders did.
The question I had was clear: What are the essential principles of freedom, the indispensable things that simply must be applied if we truly want a free and prosperous society?
Some of the things I found were simple and direct, like principles listed in Skousen’s Five Thousand Year Leap or Bastiat’s little book The Law. Others were more obscure, like those found in the writing of Solzhenitsyn, Montesquieu, or Aristotle. Some were downright elusive—not because the Founding Fathers and other great freedom leaders didn’t teach them, but because we’ve stopped talking about them in recent decades.
I found some of the most important principles in the 20-volume collected writings of Thomas Jefferson. I found a lot in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, of course, and other great works like the writings of Blackstone.
The Hidden Principle
I found one hidden away in the writings of Patrick Henry—a principle of freedom that almost single-handedly determines whether or not a society will flourish or move into decline. But this principle is hidden from most moderns; almost nobody today knows it or realizes how truly vital it is.
I searched for the indispensable principles of freedom in every book I read, in every class I took, every seminar I attended, every class I taught, every discussion I led, every speech I gave. Some of the principles came from surprising sources. For example, I found one of the vital principles of freedom in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and another in Owen Wister’s The Virginian. This was unexpected, but the principles are powerful.
I eventually put this list of indispensable principles into an outline and started writing this book. I wrote other books along the way, but I kept working on this one. Seemingly everything I learned influenced this magnum opus—a little or a lot. By 2005 I had it book ready. Or so I thought.
But I kept finding new principles as I read and taught, so I had to keep adding new material to the book. “This isn’t ready yet,” I realized. “I need to go re-read the great classics and make sure I haven’t missed any of the indispensable principles of freedom.”
I went back to the bookshelves and re-studied the great classics, all the Great Books and the Harvard Classics, the Annals of America set, the collected writings of many of the founding fathers, shelves of scholarly journal articles, court cases and commentaries, and the leading books on freedom through history, like the writings of Plutarch, Sydney, Cicero, James Wilson, Lord Acton, James Bryce (wow!), Calvin Coolidge, Churchill, Gandhi, Pufendorf, etc.
A Free Society
I pored through page after page, taking more notes, watching the file cabinet of ideas, quotes, and principles grow. In 2008 and 2009 I again prepared a manuscript, had it read by several excellent editors and thinkers, and got ready to publish. In the process I found a few more indispensable principles of freedom and included them. But finding even just a few more concerned me. “I need to be sure I get them all,” I told myself.
I knew I needed more time. This turned into five more years of close research, additional reading and re-reading of American Founding letters, newspaper articles, sermons, speeches, cases, documents, and more review of the greatest world classics on freedom. This was so much fun!
I wrote and rewrote. Edited, researched, added and cut. After four years of research and digging without finding any more indispensable principles of freedom, I knew the book was ready.
Rachel: So bottom line, give us the one-liner that explains what this book is about.
Oliver: Here’s what this book does: It outlines and explains what is necessary for a society to be free. That’s huge!
To Determine a Future
Everyone realizes that just knowing what makes freedom flourish isn’t enough. We have to apply these things—not just know them. But the first step is to know them, and sadly, in our day most people don’t.
If we don’t know them, we certainly can’t apply them. That’s why this book is so important. It clearly outlines what is needed to be a free nation. It outlines the 196 indispensable principles of freedom. Pure and simple.
If we know and apply these things, we’ll be free. If we don’t, we won’t.
This is powerful. It is real.
Rachel: Thanks, Oliver! Final thoughts for our readers?
Oliver: After over twenty-six years (not including the two years I lived in Spain serving a religious mission for my church) of reading, researching, debating, and analyzing history, current events, the principles of liberty, and the great classics, I’m so excited to put this all together in this important book. It’s been a labor of love: To bring the truly indispensable principles of freedom to the regular people who ultimately determine the future of any society.
I hope parents will encourage this book with every young person, and that any adult who cares about freedom will read it closely.
I love freedom. I believe it is the way God wants people to live in this world. It brings more happiness, prosperity, opportunity, and family success than any other economic or political system. I have dedicated my life to doing whatever I can to promote freedom—real freedom, not frustrating politics—in the world. I am so grateful to the many people, friends, mentors, writers, thinkers, leaders and others who have directly or indirectly helped clarify these 196 indispensable principles of freedom. They are incredibly powerful!
Again, if we use them, we can restore freedom to any society or nation. If we don’t, we can’t.
So, I repeat: This is the book. This is the one. We need our generation to read it. Anyone who cares about freedom, this book is dedicated to you.
This hardback, high-quality book retails at $ 27.95, but it is available right now at the special pre-print discounted rate of $13.95. To preorder Oliver DeMille’s new book, The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom, click here >>
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.