James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Libertarians and the Constitution

Logan Ferree makes a strong case that the Constitution is not a libertarian document, and that libertarianism is new, and not the same as classical liberalism.

Because of its anarchist implications, it is virtually impossible to design a "libertarian" government or Constitution. And the Constitution shouldn't be viewed as sacred by libertarians or anyone else. But there are good reasons to appeal to it, defend it, and frame public policy around it.

1. It is what we have already. Calling a convention to try something new will likely result in an even more statist constitution than the current one.
2. When leaders ignore or violate even an imperfect constitution, and even for a just cause, they set the precedent for future leaders to abuse their power and endanger our liberty.
3. Despite some of its flaws and statist assumptions, the Constitution does limit the federal government and so a return to Constitutional limits will set the nation in a libertarian direction.
4. The number of "Constitutionalists" is greater than the number of hard-core libertarians, and are committed to the same goals of economic freedom, individual liberty (at least vis-a-vis the federal government) and non-intervention. A coalition of the two can be more influential in steering the country in the direction of liberty than working separately.
5. The Constitution can serve as a "gateway" to libertarianism. I was personally drawn to the Libertarian Party seven years ago not because I thought I was a libertarian, but because it was the only party that would restrain the federal government to Constitutional limits. The type of mind that is persuaded of the necessity of checking tyranny by adhering to the text of the Constitution is the type of mind open to libertarian ideas.

1 comment:

  1. A critical concept is the recognition of limits on government. Once you get an acknowledgement of that, you have a chance to chip away at the state.