Archive for December, 2015

Libertarianism Revisited

December 24, 2015

Libertarianism seems like a powerful political philosophy, but in failing to provide a competing moral philosophy to modern liberalism, one that reflects the truth about the human person and the conditions for human flourishing, it has inadvertently contributed to the triumph of modern liberalism.    –Nathan Schlueter, First Things


I’ve found myself growing skeptical of libertarianism.  The main reason for that is the contrasting reaction of libertarians to two states rights issues:  gay marriage and legalization of marijuana.  On gay marriage, libertarians have been virtually silent, in spite of the fact that the Federal government forced this unwelcome institute on states against the states’ indisputable will, and without constitutional authority to do so.  But on legalizing marijuana, libertarians have been persistent and passionate, insisting that states such as Colorado have the constitutional right to legalize the casual use of the drug in direct defiance of Federal laws.

This contrast awakened me to the knowledge that most libertarians are not interested in states rights, as they profess, nor constitutional government, as they profess; but are only interested in drugs, and all those high celestial principles espoused by the great minds of Hayek, Rothbard, et al, are in the end, just notions – not very important – really, man, take a hit and chill out.

Now don’t get me wrong – there are many tenets of the libertarian school that remain salient and lively in my heart.  But those libertarians that cast all governments as evil, with some even advocating the total elimination of any state government whatsoever, have gravely failed to understand some critical facts:  1)  Man is both an individual AND a social being; 2) the very first act of any gathering of men, whether it is to start a business or to start a town, is to make laws that will govern that society (even the Mises Institute has bylaws).

As soon as the Founders of the United States began to congregate, they drew up laws for themselves, their posterity, and their subjects; they established rules and rulers, as they must establish order.  This was right and profitable.  But as the state became a separate entity, and insulated itself from the people that ought to have been its masters, began to be Lord over the people that birthed it.  Moreover, it became so powerful so as to force the people to submit to it’s will by use of violence.  The people stood up to it in a last ditch effort to save the constitution in 1861, but alas, it was futile, as Abraham Lincoln proved once and for all that cannon fire is more powerful than words written on a formerly sacred document.  And the people have lived in fear of their state-child since that time, until today that child born in 1776 has grown into a spoiled monstrosity, insatiable and uncontrollable, making open mockery of those founding documents, guffawing in derisive laughter at those whose dare to quote from them.

But this terrible outcome, this disregard for law, does not invalidate the law itself.  Laws are reflections of the religion, culture, and social mores of the people; and such was the Constitution of the United States.  But in order for governmental powers to be retained by “the people” (Tenth Amendment), it must be small.  

Inasmuch as libertarians support the idea of small government, then I stand with them.  If the people of Massachusetts want to have gay marriage, then so be it.  But where were the libertarian voices when Laviathon DC *violently forced it on the Christian states?

*The libertarian doctrines are right on this:  everything the government (State) does is coercive, and enforcement by violence is always implied, and sometimes it is actual.  It is carried out by police, and if the police fail, the military will do it.  That’s why all government force is essentially military force.  Reference Ruby Ridge, Kent State, Waco, many others.