|2013-May-24 03:49:23 PM|
Ouray Webcam link....: http://ouraycam.com/
Atlas Shrugged Trailer.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W07bFa4TzM&feature=player_embedded
The John Galt Theme..: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV2mULGktiw&feature=related
Sorted Index to **Narragansett **Constitution
The Next Annual get-together in Ouray, Colorado is scheduled for Monday, 2013-Sep-02 at noon in the Patio on the North Side of the Beaumont Hotel. Details HERE
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Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / Re: What *IS* The Bare Minimum...?
on: 2013-May-22 02:14:20 PM
|Started by DennisLeeWilson - Last post by DennisLeeWilson|
Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / What *IS* The Bare Minimum...?
on: 2013-April-13 03:59:28 PM
|Started by DennisLeeWilson - Last post by DennisLeeWilson|
What *IS* The Bare Minimum...?
Originally published at...:
What *IS* The Bare Minimum...?
(and Why Does No One ASK This Question?*)
by Dennis Lee Wilson
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
What *IS* the bare minimum that two people need to agree upon, in order to live together peacefully and productively?
Any attempt to answer that question will find a lot of useful advice (such as "do not steal or murder") in various religions. But religions come with much more than the bare minimum requested in the opening question--far too much, actually, and much of it contradicts the useful advice. Therein lies part of the problem.
All systems of philosophy--including Ayn Rand's Objectivism--have some of the same characteristics. They encompass far more than the bare minimum that individuals need to agree upon, in order to live together peacefully and productively. It is NOT NECESSARY that everyone become an Objectivist or Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddist, etc in order to live together peacefully and productively. In fact, it is readily apparent that even groups of individuals who claim to adhere to Objectivism or some other philosophy or religion cannot agree on many essential core elements of their philosophy or religion. Furthermore, all "Objectivists" are not at the same level of knowledge about Objectivism. The same is true of ANY philosophy or religion. There will always be newcomers, students and children coming into adulthood.
Yet evidence abounds that it actually *IS* possible for some Objectivists to live peacefully and productively with some non-Objectivists--even without an EXPLICIT bare minimum. And the United States is (or at least used to be) evidence that it is possible for people of differing religious views to live peacefully and productively together.
Let's restate the original question as a universal...: Is there a bare minimum upon which *ALL* humans can agree?
Given what I have seen and know of psychopaths and people who gravitate to positions of power, I think that the answer is "DEFINITELY, NO!".
And that answer leads to a more specific question...: Is there a bare minimum upon which *YOU AND I* can agree?
If the two of us can agree upon something, perhaps there is one other person that you know, or that I know...
So what might an EXPLICIT bare minimum look like?
I submit for your appraisal The Covenant of Unanimous Consent. It is rational, simple, easy to read and understand and even short enough to memorize if desired.
If you agree and become a Signatory, at the very least you will have a single piece of paper that you can copy, point to and proclaim:
Dennis Lee Wilson
Signatory: The Covenant of Unanimous Consent
* Why Does No One ASK This Question? If the wrong questions are being asked, then the answers don’t really matter, do they?
“Ask the Right Question” http://tinyurl.com/Ask-Right-Question
There is an important connection between The Covenant of Unanimous Consent and Customary/Merchant Law and Blackstone's Commentaries.
One might argue that the Covenant is too simple and ask "What about 'everyday' laws against theft, murder, fraud, and property and contract issues?" In the past, Merchant Law and Blackstone's provided those details--and they continue to do so to this day, in spite of the existence of government "laws" and government courts!
The Covenant provides the means by which individuals can and should judge particular instances of Merchant Law and Blackstone's,-- i.e. the Covenant *IS* Supreme Law. The Covenant *IS* what the USA Constitution was intended to be, and attempted and failed to provide.
The Constitution and similar historical documents relied upon "other", delegated people (government) to "make", care for and enforce sensible and rational laws. The Covenant expects the individual Signatories to be responsible for themselves and their own actions, and to organize themselves as they deem to be appropriate. Merchant Law and Blackstone's Commentaries ALREADY EXIST! There is no great effort needed to utilize them. They are made, cared for and enforced by the individuals involved and they are excellent tools for Covenant societies and associations.
 It takes two people or more to form Voluntary Groups such as Marriages; Friendships; Agorist, Anarcho-capitalist, Anarchist and Survivalist Communities; Objectivist "Galt" Gulches and similar Societies; Redoubts; Family/Community Farms; Free State Groups; Temporary and Permanent Autonomous Zones; Supersedure Zones; Sea Steads; Independent Territories; Private Apartment Buildings; Home Associations and Restricted or Gated Communities and more. For details see...:
What *IS* a "Political Statement"? Why is One Needed? Who would Use It?
 The Covenant of Unanimous Consent
 The Enterprise of Customary Law [aka Law Merchant*]
 Commentaries on the Laws of England by William Blackstone--also known as Blackstone's Commentaries.
 Living for 1000 Years - The "Dark" Ages?
-- What *IS* so important about 1,000 years of human history that advocates of government need to label it "Dark"?
 A Written Constitution: Protecting the State from the People
By studying the incentives and institutions of primitive law, it becomes evident that precisely the same kinds of customary legal systems have existed in more complex societies, ranging from medieval Iceland, Ireland, and Anglo-Saxon England to the development of the medieval Law Merchant, and even to the western frontier of the United States during the 1800s. Numerous frontiersmen were familiar with Blackstone's and frequently quoted from it.
Law Merchant developed during the time when humans in Europe REJECTED the existing Roman law and actually managed to live--and thrive-- for 1,000 years without big central government! What *IS* so important about the Middle Ages that advocates of government need to label it "Dark"?
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Mr. Wilson is a member of Mensa in Arizona and is a past editor of Vidya, the Journal of the Triple Nine Society. He writes and collects articles about current events and analyzes how they relate to the Covenant. Some of his articles have been published on sites throughout the worldwide web. All are available at his personal website/blog at http://DennisLeeWilson.com. See http://tinyurl.com/Articles-Index
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What *IS* The Bare Minimum...? 94.5 KB updated 2013-05-22
on: 2013-March-10 10:30:12 AM
|Started by StuartMW - Last post by StuartMW|
I have a theory, which just occurred to me, that may explain the vacation.
Sometime around 1965-1966 the O'Connors moved from
36 E. 36th St
New York, NY
(Ref: Mary Ann Sures, Facets of Ayn Rand, ARI Press)
The Murray Park (built 1964)
120 E. 34st St
New York, NY
(Ref: various books)
Perhaps professional movers were used (the O'Connors were in their early 60's at the time) so they visited Ouray to be out of the way. I've no evidence of this and the people that'd know from that time haven't said (unimportant detail I guess).
Some additional thoughts/information..
Today, unless one has a vehicle, it is difficult to get to Ouray. However in 1996 I believe that Greyhound had bus service from Grand Junction, CO (and perhaps Montrose, CO) through to Durango, CO stopping in Ouray. Ayn Rand did not like traveling by air (documented) so its possible she reached the town by train/bus or bus alone. Greyhound no longer has service to Montrose although they do in Grand Junction (not sure about Durango) but they no longer pass through Ouray (a fact I know personally).
on: 2013-March-09 09:10:20 AM
|Started by StuartMW - Last post by StuartMW|
I've been reading quite a bit of (newish to me) Ayn Rand biographical material lately and one thing that surprised me is that Ayn Rand and her husband returned to Ouray, CO in August 1966 on vacation. This is in addition to their Atlas Shrugged scouting visit in 1949 (from memory) while moving from Los Angeles to New York. I wasn't aware (have never read or heard) that the O'Connor's ever took a vacation.
The source for this is Jeff Britting's (ARI archivist) book "Ayn Rand" (P100). Britting only gives the year (1966) but thanks to Google I was able to determine that Miss Rand sent a postcard (of Box Canyon Falls) to Daryn Kent (now Daryn Kent-Duncan) on August 4th 1966. Miss Kent was a typist for Atlas Shrugged apparently and cared for Rand's cats while she was in Ouray.
I've managed to find an image of the postcard (reverse) but I'd rather not give the source. I will say that the card was sold, via public auction, in November 1998 for US$2,300. Interestingly it only cost 4c to send a postcard in 1966.
What this confirms, again, is that Miss Rand had a high opinion of Ouray. Many visitors come to the same conclusion.
PS: I've lived in Ouray for the last 2 years.
Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / Re: On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second Americ
on: 2013-March-01 07:14:11 PM
|Started by DennisLeeWilson - Last post by DennisLeeWilson|
Continued from previous message...
 Robert Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (New York: Oxford University Press 1987), p. ix, contrasts the early American experience to the present:
 On the growth of US government, and in particular the role of war in this development, see John V. Denson, ed., The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1997); Higgs, Crisis and Leviathan; Eckehart Krippendorff, Staat und Krieg (Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1985), esp. pp. 90-116; Ronald Radosh and Murray N. Rothbard, eds., A New History of Leviathan (New York: Dutton, 1972); Arthur A. Ekirch, The Decline of American Liberalism (New York: Atheneum, 1967).
 For the most forceful statement to this effect see Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles, 1973); also Murray N. Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty (New York: New York University Press, 1998), especially chapters 22 and 23.
 In fact, any such protection contract is not only empirically unlikely, but praxeologically impossible. By "agreeing to be taxed and legislated in order to be protected," a person would in effect surrender, or alienate, all of his property to the taxing authority and submit himself into permanent slavery to the legislative agency. Yet any such contract is from the outset impermissible and hence null and void, because it contradicts the very nature of protection contracts, namely the self-ownership of someone to be protected and the existence of something owned by the protected (rather than his protector), i.e., private – separate – property.
Interestingly, despite the fact that no known state constitution has ever been agreed upon by everyone falling under its jurisdiction, and despite the apparent impossibility that this fact could ever be different, political philosophy, from Hobbes over Locke on down to the present, abounds with attempts to provide a contractual justification for the state. The reason for these seemingly endless endeavors is obvious: either a state can be justified as the outcome of contracts, or it cannot be justified at all. Unsurprisingly, however, this search, much like that for a square circle or a perpetuum mobile, has come up empty and was merely generated a long list of disingenuous, if not fraudulent, pseudo-justifications by means of semantic fiat: "no contract" is really an "implicit," or "tacit," or "conceptual" contract. In short, "no" really means "yes." For a prominent modern example of this Orwellian "newspeak," see James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962); James M. Buchanan, The Limits of Liberty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975); and idem, Freedom in Constitutional Contract (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1977). For a critique of Buchanan and the so-called Public Choice School, see Murray N. Rothbard, The Logic of Action Two (Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar, 1997), chaps. 4 and 17; and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Economics and Ethics of Private Property (Boston: Kluwer, 1993), chapter 1.
 See on the following also chapter 12; Morris and Linda Tannehill, The Market for Liberty (New York: Laissez Faire Books, 1984), especially chapter 8. [You can read it for free (or download the excellent audiobook) Here: http://alexpeak.com/twr/tmfl/ ...Dennis]
 De Molinari, The Production of Security, p. 12.
 As Rothbard has explained, even
See also Murray N. Rothbard, For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, rev. ed. (New York: Collier, 1978), pp. 215ff.
 Comments Rothbard:
 Insurance agencies, insofar as they enter into a bilateral contract with each of their clients, fully satisfy the ancient and original desideratum of "representative" government of which Bruno Leoni has noted that "political representation was closely connected in its origin with the idea that the representatives act as agents of other people and according to the latter's will" (Freedom and the Law, pp. 118-19 [see also note 8 above]. In distinct contrast, modern democratic government involves the complete perversion – indeed, the nullification – of the original idea of representative government. Today, a person is deemed to be politically "represented" no matter what, i.e., regardless of his own will and actions or that of his representative. A person is considered represented if he votes, but also if he does not vote. He is considered represented if the candidate he has voted for is elected, but also if another candidate is elected. He is represented, whether the candidate he voted or did not vote for does or does not do what he wished him to do. And he is considered politically represented, whether "his" representative's will finds majority support among all elected representatives or not. "In truth," as Lysander Spooner has pointed out,
 On the "logic" of insurance, see Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Scholar's Edition (Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1998), chapter 6; Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, 2 vols. (Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1993), pp. 498ff; and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, "On Certainty and Uncertainty, Or: How Rational Can Our Expectations Be?" Review of Austrian Economics 10, no. 1 (1997).
 In being compelled, on the one hand, to place individuals with the same or similar risk exposure into the same risk group and to charge each of them the same price per insured value; and in being compelled, on the other hand, to distinguish accurately between various classes of individuals with objectively (factually) different group risks and to charge a different price per insured value for members of different risk groups (with the price differentials accurately reflecting the degree of heterogeneity between the members of such different groups), insurance companies would systematically promote the above-mentioned natural human tendency (see note 2 above) of "like people" to associate and to discriminate against and physically separate themselves from "unlikes." On the tendency of states to break up and destroy homogeneous groups and associations through a policy of forced integration, see chapters 7, 9, and 10.
 See also chapter 12; Morris and Linda Tannehill, The Market for Liberty (New York: Laissez Faire Books, 1984), chapters 11, 13, and 14. [You can read it for free (or download the excellent audiobook) Here: http://alexpeak.com/twr/tmfl/ ...Dennis]
 See on this Murray N. Rothbard, "Concepts of the Role of Intellectuals in Social Change Toward Laissez-Faire," Journal of Libertarian Studies 9, no. 2 (1990).
 On the fundamental importance of public opinion for government power see Etienne de la Boetie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (New York: Free Life Editions, 1975), with an introduction by Murray N. Rothbard; David Hume, "On the First Principles of Government," in idem, Essays: Moral, Political and Literary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971); and Mises, Human Action, chapter 9 section 3. Mises there (p. 189) notes:
 See on this "old" liberal conception of democracy, for instance, von Mises, Liberalism: In the Classical Tradition (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1985). "The right to self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state," writes Mises,
 For a careful analysis of the issues involved in the War of Southern Independence see Thomas J. DiLorenzo, "The Great Centralizer. Abraham Lincoln and the War Between the States," Independent Review 3, no. 2 (1998).
 On the importance of the free cities of medieval Europe on the subsequent development of the uniquely European tradition of (classical) liberalism, see Charles Tilly and Wim P. Blockmans, eds., Cities and The Rise of States in Europe, A.D. 1000 to 1800 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1994).
 The danger of a government crackdown is greatest during the initial stage of this secessionist scenario, i.e., while the number of free city territories is still small. Hence, during this phase it is advisable to avoid any direct confrontation with the central government. Rather than renouncing its legitimacy altogether, it would seem prudent, for instance, to guarantee the government's "property" of federal buildings, etc. within the free territory, and "only" deny its right to future taxation and legislation concerning anyone and anything within this territory. Provided that this is done with the appropriate diplomatic tact and given the necessity of a substantial level of support in public opinion, it is difficult to imagine how the central government would dare to invade a territory and crush a group of people who had committed no other sin than trying to mind their own business. Subsequently, once the number of secessionist territories reached a critical mass – and every success in one location promoted imitation by other localities – the difficulties of crushing the secessionists would increase exponentially, and the central government would quickly be rendered impotent and implode under its own weight.
February 19, 2013
Hans-Hermann Hoppe [send him mail] is distinguished fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and founder and president of the Property and Freedom Society. His books include Democracy: The God That Failed and The Myth of National Defense. Visit his website.
Copyright © 2013 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided full credit is given.
Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second Americ
on: 2013-March-01 04:05:05 PM
|Started by DennisLeeWilson - Last post by DennisLeeWilson|
On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second American Revolution
[Bold, red emphasis and comments about the Covenant of Unanimous Consent have been added. Dennis]
On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second American Revolution
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
This essay was originally published in Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom, edited by John V. Denson, pp. 667–696. An MP3 audio file of this article, read by Dr. Floy Lilley, is available for download.
In a recent survey, people of different nationalities were asked how proud they were to be American, German, French, etc., and whether or not they believed that the world would be a better place if other countries were just like their own. The countries ranking highest in terms of national pride were the United States and Austria. As interesting as it would be to consider the case of Austria, we shall concentrate here on the United States and the question of whether and to what extent the American claim can be justified.
In the following, we will identify three main sources of American national pride, the first two of which are justified sources of pride, while the third actually represents a fateful error. Finally, we will look at how this error might be repaired.
I - A Country of Pioneers
The first source of national pride is the memory of America's not-so-distant colonial past as a country of pioneers.
In fact, the English settlers coming to North America were the last example of the glorious achievements of what Adam Smith referred to as "a system of natural liberty": the ability of men to create a free and prosperous commonwealth from scratch. Contrary to the Hobbesian account of human nature – homo homini lupus est – the English settlers demonstrated not just the viability but also the vibrancy and attractiveness of a stateless, anarchocapitalist social order. They demonstrated how, in accordance with the views of John Locke, private property originated naturally through a person's original appropriation – his purposeful use and transformation – of previously unused land (wilderness). Furthermore, they demonstrated that, based on the recognition of private property, division of labor, and contractual exchange, men were capable of protecting themselves effectively against antisocial aggressors – first and foremost by means of self-defense (less crime existed then than exists now), and as society grew increasingly prosperous and complex, by means of specialization, i.e., by institutions and agencies such as property registries, notaries, lawyers, judges, courts, juries, sheriffs, mutual defense associations, and popular militias.
Moreover, the American colonists demonstrated the fundamental sociological importance of the institution of covenants: of associations of linguistically, ethnically, religiously, and culturally homogeneous settlers led by and subject to the internal jurisdiction of a popular leader-founder to ensure peaceful human cooperation and maintain law and order.
II - The American Revolution
The second source of national pride is the American Revolution.
In Europe there had been no open frontiers for centuries, and the intra-European colonization experience lay in the distant past. With the growth of the population, societies had assumed an increasingly hierarchical structure: of free men (freeholders) and servants, lords and vassals, overlords, and kings. While distinctly more stratified and aristocratic than colonial America, the so-called feudal societies of medieval Europe were also typically stateless social orders.
A state, in accordance with generally accepted terminology, is defined as a compulsory territorial monopolist of law and order (an ultimate decision maker). Feudal lords and kings did not typically fulfill the requirements of a state; they could only "tax" with the consent of the taxed, and on his own land every free man was as much a sovereign (ultimate decision maker) as the feudal king was on his. However, in the course of many centuries, these originally stateless societies had gradually transformed into absolute – statist – monarchies. While they had initially been acknowledged voluntarily as protectors and judges, European kings had at long last succeeded in establishing themselves as hereditary heads of state. Resisted by the aristocracy but helped along by the "common people," they had become absolute monarchs with the power to tax without consent and to make ultimate decisions regarding the property of free men.
These European developments had a twofold effect on America. On the one hand, England was also ruled by an absolute king, at least until 1688, and when the English settlers arrived on the new continent, the king's rule was extended to America. Unlike the settlers' founding of private property and their private – voluntary and cooperative – production of security and administration of justice, however, the establishment of the royal colonies and administrations was not the result of original appropriation (homesteading) and contract – in fact, no English king had ever set foot on the American continent – but of usurpation (declaration) and imposition.
On the other hand, the settlers brought something else with them from Europe. There, the development from feudalism to royal absolutism had not only been resisted by the aristocracy but it was also opposed theoretically with recourse to the theory of natural rights as it originated within Scholastic philosophy. According to this doctrine, government was supposed to be contractual, and every government agent, including the king, was subject to the same universal rights and laws as everyone else. While this may have been the case in earlier times, it was certainly no longer true for modern absolute kings. Absolute kings were usurpers of human rights and thus illegitimate. Hence, insurrection was not only permitted but became a duty sanctioned by natural law.
The American colonists were familiar with the doctrine of natural rights. In fact, in light of their own personal experience with the achievements and effects of natural liberty and as religious dissenters who had left their mother country in disagreement with the king and the Church of England, they were particularly receptive to this doctrine.
Steeped in the doctrine of natural rights, encouraged by the distance of the English king, and stimulated further by the puritanical censure of royal idleness, luxury, and pomp, the American colonists rose up to free themselves of British rule.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, government was instituted to protect life, property, and the pursuit of happiness. It drew its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. In contrast, the royal British government claimed that it could tax the colonists without their consent. If a government failed to do what it was designed to do, Jefferson declared, "it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
III - The American Constitution
But what was the next step once independence from Britain had been won? This question leads to the third source of national pride – the American Constitution – and the explanation as to why this Constitution, rather than being a legitimate source of pride, represents a fateful error.
Thanks to the great advances in economic and political theory since the late 1700s, in particular at the hands of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard, we are now able to give a precise answer to this question. According to Mises and Rothbard, once there is no longer free entry into the business of the production of protection and adjudication, the price of protection and justice will rise and their quality will fall. Rather than being a protector and judge, a compulsory monopolist will become a protection racketeer – the destroyer and invader of the people and property that he is supposed to protect, a warmonger, and an imperialist.
Indeed, the inflated price of protection and the perversion of the ancient law by the English king, both of which had led the American colonists to revolt, were the inevitable result of compulsory monopoly. Having successfully seceded and thrown out the British occupiers, it would only have been necessary for the American colonists to let the existing homegrown institutions of self-defense and private (voluntary and cooperative) protection and adjudication by specialized agents and agencies take care of law and order.
This did not happen, however. The Americans not only did not let the inherited royal institutions of colonies and colonial governments wither away into oblivion; they reconstituted them within the old political borders in the form of independent states, each equipped with its own coercive (unilateral) taxing and legislative powers. While this would have been bad enough, the new Americans made matters worse by adopting the American Constitution and replacing a loose confederation of independent states with the central (federal) government of the United States.
This Constitution provided for the substitution of a popularly elected parliament and president for an unelected king, but it changed nothing regarding their power to tax and legislate. To the contrary, while the English king's power to tax without consent had only been assumed rather than explicitly granted and was thus in dispute, the Constitution explicitly granted this very power to Congress. Furthermore, while kings – in theory, even absolute kings – had not been considered the makers but only the interpreters and executors of preexisting and immutable law, i.e., as judges rather than legislators, the Constitution explicitly vested Congress with the power of legislating, and the president and the Supreme Court with the powers of executing and interpreting such legislated law.
In effect, what the American Constitution did was only this: Instead of a king who regarded colonial America as his private property and the colonists as his tenants, the Constitution put temporary and interchangeable caretakers in charge of the country's monopoly of justice and protection.
These caretakers did not own the country, but as long as they were in office, they could make use of it and its residents to their own and their protégés' advantage. However, as elementary economic theory predicts, this institutional setup will not eliminate the self-interest-driven tendency of a monopolist of law and order toward increased exploitation. To the contrary, it only tends to make his exploitation less calculating, more shortsighted, and wasteful. As Rothbard explained,
Moreover, because the Constitution provided explicitly for "open entry" into state government – anyone could become a member of Congress, president, or a Supreme Court judge – resistance against state property invasions declined; and as the result of "open political competition" the entire character structure of society became distorted, and more and more bad characters rose to the top.
Free entry and competition is not always good. Competition in the production of goods is good, but competition in the production of bads is not. Free competition in killing, stealing, counterfeiting, or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad. Yet this is precisely what is instituted by open political competition, i.e., democracy.
In every society, people who covet another man's property exist, but in most cases people learn not to act on this desire or even feel ashamed for entertaining it. In an anarchocapitalist society in particular, anyone acting on such a desire is considered a criminal and is suppressed by physical violence. Under monarchical rule, by contrast, only one person – the king – can act on his desire for another man's property, and it is this that makes him a potential threat. However, because only he can expropriate while everyone else is forbidden to do likewise, a king's every action will be regarded with utmost suspicion. Moreover, the selection of a king is by accident of his noble birth. His only characteristic qualification is his upbringing as a future king and preserver of the dynasty and its possessions. This does not assure that he will not be evil, of course; at the same time, however, it does not preclude that a king might actually be a harmless dilettante or even a decent person.
In distinct contrast, by freeing up entry into government, the Constitution permitted anyone to openly express his desire for other men's property; indeed, owing to the constitutional guarantee of "freedom of speech," everyone is protected in so doing. Moreover, everyone is permitted to act on this desire, provided that he gains entry into government; hence, under the Constitution, everyone becomes a potential threat.
To be sure, there are people who are unafflicted by the desire to enrich themselves at the expense of others and to lord it over them; that is, there are people who wish only to work, produce, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. However, if politics – the acquisition of goods by political means (taxation and legislation) – is permitted, even these harmless people will be profoundly affected.
In order to defend themselves against attacks on their liberty and property by those who have fewer moral scruples, even these honest, hardworking people must become "political animals" and spend more and more time and energy developing their political skills. Given that the characteristics and talents required for political success – good looks, sociability, oratorical power, charisma, etc. – are distributed unequally among men, then those with these particular characteristics and skills will have a sound advantage in the competition for scarce resources (economic success) as compared with those without them.
Worse still, given that, in every society, more "have-nots" of everything worth having exist than "haves," the politically talented who have little or no inhibition against taking property and lording it over others will have a clear advantage over those with such scruples. That is, open political competition favors aggressive, hence dangerous, rather than defensive, hence harmless, political talents and will thus lead to the cultivation and perfection of the peculiar skills of demagoguery, deception, lying, opportunism, corruption, and bribery. Therefore, entrance into and success within government will become increasingly impossible for anyone hampered by moral scruples against lying and stealing.
Unlike kings then, congressmen, presidents, and Supreme Court judges do not and cannot acquire their positions accidentally. Rather, they reach their position because of their proficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues. Moreover, even outside the orbit of government, within civil society, individuals will increasingly rise to the top of economic and financial success, not on account of their productive or entrepreneurial talents or even their superior defensive political talents, but rather because of their superior skills as unscrupulous political entrepreneurs and lobbyists. Thus, the Constitution virtually assures that exclusively dangerous men will rise to the pinnacle of government power and that moral behavior and ethical standards will tend to decline and deteriorate over all.
Moreover, the constitutionally provided "separation of powers" makes no difference in this regard. Two or even three wrongs do not make a right. To the contrary, they lead to the proliferation, accumulation, reinforcement, and aggravation of error. Legislators cannot impose their will on their hapless subjects without the cooperation of the president as the head of the executive branch of government, and the president in turn will use his position and the resources at his disposal to influence legislators and legislation. And although the Supreme Court may disagree with particular acts of Congress or the president, Supreme Court judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate and remain dependent on them for funding. As an integral part of the institution of government, they have no interest in limiting but every interest in expanding the government's, and hence their own, power.
IV - Two Hundred Years Later …
After more than two centuries of "constitutionally limited government," the results are clear and incontrovertible. At the outset of the American "experiment," the tax burden imposed on Americans was light, indeed almost negligible. Money consisted of fixed quantities of gold and silver. The definition of private property was clear and seemingly immutable, and the right to self-defense was regarded as sacrosanct. No standing army existed, and, as expressed in George Washington's Farewell Address, a firm commitment to free trade and a noninterventionist foreign policy appeared to be in place. Two hundred years later, matters have changed dramatically.
Now, year in and year out, the American government expropriates more than 40 percent of the incomes of private producers, making even the economic burden imposed on slaves and serfs seem moderate in comparison. Gold and silver have been replaced by government-manufactured paper money, and Americans are being robbed continually through money inflation. The meaning of private property, once seemingly clear and fixed, has become obscure, flexible, and fluid. In fact, every detail of private life, property, trade, and contract is regulated and re-regulated by ever-higher mountains of paper laws (legislation). With increasing legislation, ever more legal uncertainty and moral hazards have been created, and lawlessness has replaced law and order.
Last but not least, the commitment to free trade and noninterventionism has given way to a policy of protectionism, militarism, and imperialism. In fact, almost since its beginnings the US government has engaged in relentless aggressive expansionism and, starting with the Spanish-American War and continuing past World War I and World War II to the present, the United States has become entangled in hundreds of foreign conflicts and risen to the rank of the world's foremost warmonger and imperialist power. In addition, while American citizens have become increasingly more defenseless, insecure, and impoverished, and foreigners all over the globe have become ever more threatened and bullied by US military power, American presidents, members of Congress, and Supreme Court judges have become ever more arrogant, morally corrupt, and dangerous.
What can possibly be done about this state of affairs? First, the American Constitution must be recognized for what it is – an error.
As the Declaration of Independence noted, government is supposed to protect life, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet in granting government the power to tax and legislate without consent, the Constitution cannot possibly assure this goal but is instead the very instrument for invading and destroying the right to life, property, and liberty. It is absurd to believe that an agency that may tax without consent can be a property protector. Likewise, it is absurd to believe that an agency with legislative powers can preserve law and order. Rather, it must be recognized that the Constitution is itself unconstitutional, i.e., incompatible with the very doctrine of natural human rights that inspired the American Revolution.
Indeed, no one in his right mind would agree to a contract that allowed one's alleged protector to determine unilaterally, without one's consent, and irrevocably, without the possibility of exit, how much to charge for protection; and no one in his right mind would agree to an irrevocable contract which granted one's alleged protector the right to ultimate decision making regarding one's own person and property, i.e., of unilateral lawmaking.
Second, it is necessary to offer a positive and inspiring alternative to the present system. Note: See articles regarding the Covenant of Unanimous Consent and compare them to the descriptions that follow in this article...Dennis]
While it is important that the memory of America's past as a land of pioneers and an effective anarcho-capitalist system based on self-defense and popular militias be kept alive, we cannot return to the feudal past or the time of the American Revolution. Yet the situation is not hopeless. Despite the relentless growth of statism over the course of the past two centuries, economic development has continued, and our living standards have reached spectacular new heights. Under these circumstances, a completely new option has become viable: the provision of law and order by freely competing private (profit-and-loss) insurance agencies.
Even though hampered by the state, insurance agencies protect private property owners upon payment of a premium against a multitude of natural and social disasters, from floods and hurricanes to theft and fraud. Thus, it would seem that the production of security and protection is the very purpose of insurance. Moreover, people would not turn to just anyone for a service as essential as that of protection. Rather, as de Molinari noted,
In this regard insurance agencies also seem to fit the bill. They are big and in command of the resources – physical and human – necessary to accomplish the task of dealing with the dangers, actual or imagined, of the real world. Indeed, insurers operate on a national or even international scale. They own substantial property holdings dispersed over wide territories and beyond the borders of single states and thus have a manifest self-interest in effective protection. Furthermore, all insurance companies are connected through a complex network of contractual agreements on mutual assistance and arbitration as well as a system of international reinsurance agencies representing a combined economic power that dwarfs most if not all contemporary governments. They have acquired this position because of their reputation as effective, reliable, and honest businesses.
While this may suffice to establish insurance agencies as a possible alternative to the role currently performed by states as providers of law and order, a more detailed examination is needed to demonstrate the principal superiority of such an alternative to the status quo. In order to do this, it is only necessary to recognize that insurance agencies can neither tax nor legislate; that is, the relationship between the insurer and the insured is consensual. Both are free to cooperate or not to cooperate, and this fact has momentous implications. In this regard, insurance agencies are categorically different from states.
The advantages of having insurance agencies provide security and protection are as follows. First, competition among insurers for paying clients will bring about a tendency toward a continuous fall in the price of protection per insured value, thus rendering protection more affordable. In contrast, a monopolistic protector who may tax the protected will charge ever-higher prices for his services.
Second, insurers will have to indemnify their clients in the case of actual damage; hence, they must operate efficiently. Regarding social disasters – crime – in particular, this means that the insurer must be concerned above all with effective prevention, for unless he can prevent a crime, he will have to pay up. Further, if a criminal act cannot be prevented, an insurer will still want to recover the loot, apprehend the offender, and bring him to justice, because in so doing the insurer can reduce his costs and force the criminal – rather than the victim and his insurer – to pay for the damages and cost of indemnification. In distinct contrast, because compulsory monopolist states do not indemnify victims and because they can resort to taxation as a source of funding, they have little or no incentive to prevent crime or to recover loot and capture criminals. If they do manage to apprehend a criminal, they typically force the victim to pay for the criminal's incarceration, thus adding insult to injury.
Third and most important, because the relationship between insurers and their clients is voluntary, insurers must accept private property as an ultimate given and private property rights as immutable law. That is, in order to attract or retain paying clients, insurers will have to offer contracts with specified property and property damage descriptions, rules of procedure, evidence, compensation, restitution, and punishment, as well as intra- and interagency conflict resolution and arbitration procedures.
Moreover, out of the steady cooperation between different insurers in mutual interagency arbitration proceedings, a tendency toward the unification of law – of a truly universal or international law – will emerge. Everyone, by virtue of being insured, would thus become tied into a global competitive effort to minimize conflict and aggression. Every single conflict and damage claim, regardless of where and by or against whom, would fall into the jurisdiction of exactly one or more specific and enumerable insurance agencies and their contractually agreed-to arbitration procedures, thereby creating "perfect" legal certainty.
In striking contrast, as tax-funded monopoly protectors, states do not offer the consumers of protection anything even faintly resembling a service contract. Instead, they operate in a contractual void that allows them to make up and change the rules of the game as they go along. Most remarkably, whereas insurers must submit themselves to independent third-party arbitrators and arbitration proceedings in order to attract voluntary paying clients, states, insofar as they allow for arbitration at all, assign this task to another state-funded and state-dependent judge.
Further implications of this fundamental contrast between insurers as contractual versus states as noncontractual providers of security deserve special attention.
Because they are not subject to and bound by contracts, states typically outlaw the ownership of weapons by their "clients," thus increasing their own security at the expense of rendering their alleged clients defenseless. In contrast, no voluntary buyer of protection insurance would agree to a contract that required him to surrender his right to self-defense and be unarmed or otherwise defenseless. To the contrary, insurance agencies would encourage the ownership of guns and other protective devices among their clients by means of selective price cuts, because the better the private protection of their clients, the lower the insurers' protection and indemnification costs would be.
Moreover, because they operate in a contractual void and are independent of voluntary payment, states arbitrarily define and redefine what is and what is not a punishable "aggression" and what does and does not require compensation. By imposing a proportional or progressive income tax and redistributing income from the rich to the poor, for instance, states in effect define the rich as aggressors and the poor as their victims. (Otherwise, if the rich were not aggressors and the poor not their victims, how could taking something from the former and giving it to the latter be justified?) Or by passing affirmative action laws, states effectively define whites and males as aggressors and blacks and women as their victims. For insurance agencies, any such business conduct would be impossible for two fundamental reasons.
First, all insurance involves the pooling of particular risks into risk classes. It implies that to some of the insured, more will be paid out than what they paid in, and to others, less. However – and this is decisive – no one knows in advance who the "winners" and who the "losers" will be. Winners and losers – and any income redistribution among them – will be randomly distributed. Otherwise, if winners and losers could be systematically predicted, losers would not want to pool their risk with winners but only with other losers because this would lower their insurance premium.
Second, it is not possible to insure oneself against any conceivable risk. Rather, it is only possible to insure oneself against accidents, i.e., risks over whose outcome the insured has no control whatsoever and to which he contributes nothing. Thus, it is possible to insure oneself against the risk of death or fire, for instance, but it is not possible to insure oneself against the risk of committing suicide or setting one's own house on fire.
Similarly, it is impossible to insure oneself against the risk of business failure, of unemployment, of not becoming rich, of not feeling like getting up and out of bed in the morning, or of disliking one's neighbors, fellows or superiors, because in each of these cases one has either full or partial control over the event in question. That is, an individual can affect the likelihood of the risk. By their very nature, the avoidance of risks such as these falls into the realm of individual responsibility, and any agency that undertook their insurance would be slated for immediate bankruptcy.
Most significantly for the subject under discussion, the uninsurability of individual actions and sentiments (in contradistinction to accidents) implies that it is also impossible to insure oneself against the risk of damages that are the result of one's prior aggression or provocation. Rather, every insurer must restrict the actions of its clients so as to exclude all aggression and provocation on their part. That is, any insurance against social disasters such as crime must be contingent on the insured submitting themselves to specified norms of nonaggressive, civilized, conduct.
Accordingly, while states as monopolistic protectors can engage in redistributive policies benefiting one group of people at the expense of another, and while as tax-supported agencies they can even "insure" uninsurable risks and protect provocateurs and aggressors, voluntarily funded insurers would be systematically prevented from doing any such thing. Competition among insurers would preclude any form of income and wealth redistribution among various groups of insured, for a company engaging in such practices would lose clients to others refraining from them. Rather, every client would pay exclusively for his own risk, respectively that of people with the same (homogeneous) risk exposure that he faces. Nor would voluntarily funded insurers be able to "protect" any person from the consequences of his own erroneous, foolish, risky, or aggressive conduct or sentiment. Competition between insurers would instead systematically encourage individual responsibility, and any known provocateur and aggressor would be excluded as a bad insurance risk from any insurance coverage whatsoever and be rendered an economically isolated, weak, and vulnerable outcast.
Finally, with regard to foreign relations, because states can externalize the costs of their own actions onto hapless taxpayers, they are permanently prone to becoming aggressors and warmongers. Accordingly, they tend to fund and develop weapons of aggression and mass destruction. In distinct contrast, insurers will be prevented from engaging in any form of external aggression because any aggression is costly and requires higher insurance premiums, implying the loss of clients to other, nonaggressive competitors. Insurers will engage exclusively in defensive violence, and instead of acquiring weapons of aggression and mass destruction, they will tend to invest in the development of weapons of defense and of targeted retaliation.
V - Revolution by Means of Secession
Even though all of this is clear, how can we ever succeed in implementing such a fundamental constitutional reform? Insurance agencies are presently restricted by countless regulations that prevent them from doing what they could and naturally would do. How can they be freed from these regulations?
Essentially, the answer to this question is the same as that given by the American revolutionaries more than two hundred years ago: through the creation of free territories and by means of secession.
In fact, under today's democratic conditions, this answer is even truer than it was in the days of kings. For then, under monarchical conditions, the advocates of an antistatist liberal-libertarian social revolution still had an option that has since been lost. Liberal-libertarians in the old days could – and frequently did – believe in the possibility of simply converting the king to their view, thereby initiating a "revolution from the top." No mass support was necessary for this – just the insight of an enlightened prince.
However realistic this might have been then, this top-down strategy of social revolution would be impossible today. Political leaders are selected nowadays according to their demagogic talents and proven records as habitual immoralists, as has been explained above; consequently, the chance of converting them to liberal-libertarian views must be considered even lower than that of converting a king who simply inherited his position.
Moreover, the state's protection monopoly is now considered public rather than private property, and government rule is no longer tied to a particular individual but to specified functions exercised by anonymous functionaries. Hence, the one-or-few-men-conversion strategy can no longer work. It does not matter if one converts a few top government officials – the president and some leading senators or judges, for instance – because within the rules of democratic government no single individual has the power to abdicate the government's monopoly of protection. Kings had this power, but presidents do not. The president can resign from his position, of course, only to have it taken over by someone else. He cannot dissolve the governmental protection monopoly because according to the rules of democracy, "the people," not their elected representatives, are considered the "owners" of government.
Thus, rather than by means of a top-down reform, under the current conditions, one's strategy must be one of a bottom-up revolution. At first, the realization of this insight would seem to make the task of a liberal-libertarian social revolution impossible, for does this not imply that one would have to persuade a majority of the public to vote for the abolition of democracy and an end to all taxes and legislation? And is this not sheer fantasy, given that the masses are always dull and indolent, and even more so given that democracy, as explained above, promotes moral and intellectual degeneration? How in the world can anyone expect that a majority of an increasingly degenerate people accustomed to the "right" to vote should ever voluntarily renounce the opportunity of looting other people's property? Put this way, one must admit that the prospect of a social revolution must indeed be regarded as virtually nil. Rather, it is only on second thought, upon regarding secession as an integral part of any bottom-up strategy, that the task of a liberal-libertarian revolution appears less than impossible, even if it still remains a daunting one.
How does secession fit into a bottom-up strategy of social revolution? More important, how can a secessionist movement escape the Southern Confederacy's fate of being crushed by a tyrannical and dangerously armed central government?
In response to these questions, it is first necessary to remember that neither the original American Revolution nor the American Constitution was the result of the will of the majority of the population. A third of the American colonists were actually Tories, and another third were occupied with daily routines and did not care either way. No more than a third of the colonists were actually committed to and supportive of the revolution, yet they carried the day. And as far as the Constitution is concerned, the overwhelming majority of the American public was opposed to its adoption, and its ratification represented more of a coup d'état by a tiny minority than the general will. All revolutions, whether good or bad, are started by minorities; and the secessionist route toward social revolution, which necessarily involves the breaking-away of a smaller number of people from a larger one, takes explicit cognizance of this important fact.
Second, it is necessary to recognize that the ultimate power of every government – whether of kings or caretakers – rests solely on opinion and not on physical force. The agents of government are never more than a small proportion of the total population under their control. This implies that no government can possibly enforce its will upon the entire population unless it finds widespread support and voluntary cooperation within the nongovernmental public. It implies likewise that every government can be brought down by a mere change in public opinion, i.e., by the withdrawal of the public's consent and cooperation.
And while it is undeniably true that, after more than two centuries of democracy, the American public has become so degenerate, morally and intellectually, that any such withdrawal must be considered impossible on a nationwide scale, it would not seem insurmountably difficult to win a secessionist-minded majority in sufficiently small districts or regions of the country.
In fact, given an energetic minority of intellectual elites inspired by the vision of a free society in which law and order is provided by competitive insurers, and given furthermore that – certainly in the United States, which owes its very existence to a secessionist act – secession is still held to be legitimate and in accordance with the "original" democratic ideal of self-determination (rather than majority rule) by a substantial number of people, there seems to be nothing unrealistic about assuming that such secessionist majorities exist or can be created at hundreds of locations all over the country.
In fact, under the rather realistic assumption that the US central government as well as the social-democratic states of the West in general are bound for economic bankruptcy (much like the socialist people's democracies of the East collapsed economically some years ago), present tendencies toward political disintegration will likely be strengthened in the future. Accordingly, the number of potential secessionist regions will continue to rise, even beyond its current level.
Finally, the insight into the widespread and growing secessionist potential also permits an answer to the last question regarding the dangers of a central government crackdown.
While it is important in this regard that the memory of the secessionist past of the United States be kept alive, it is even more important for the success of a liberal-libertarian revolution to avoid the mistakes of the second failed attempt at secession. Fortunately, the issue of slavery, which complicated and obscured the situation in 1861, has been resolved. However, another important lesson must be learned by comparing the failed second American experiment with secession to the successful first one.
The first American secession was facilitated significantly by the fact that at the center of power in Britain, public opinion concerning the secessionists was hardly unified. In fact, many prominent British figures such as Edmund Burke and Adam Smith openly sympathized with the secessionists. Apart from purely ideological reasons, which rarely affect more than a handful of philosophical minds, this lack of a unified opposition to the American secessionists in British public opinion can be attributed to two complementary factors. On the one hand, a multitude of regional and cultural-religious affiliations as well as of personal and family ties between Britain and the American colonists existed. On the other hand, the American events were considered far from home and the potential loss of the colonies as economically insignificant.
In both regards, the situation in 1861 was distinctly different. To be sure, at the center of political power, which had shifted to the northern states by then, opposition to the secessionist Southern Confederacy was not unified, and the Confederate cause also had supporters in the North. However, fewer cultural bonds and kinship ties existed between the American North and South than had existed between Britain and the American colonists, and the secession of the Southern Confederacy involved about half the territory and a third of the entire population of the United States and thus struck Northerners as close to home and as a significant economic loss. Therefore, it was comparatively easier for the Northern power elite to mold a unified front of "progressive" Yankee culture versus a culturally backward and "reactionary" Dixieland.
In light of these considerations, then, it appears strategically advisable not to attempt again what in 1861 failed so painfully – for contiguous states or even the entire South trying to break away from the tyranny of Washington, D.C.
Rather, a modern liberal-libertarian strategy of secession should take its cues from the European Middle Ages when, from about the 12th until well into the 17th century (with the emergence of the modern central state), Europe was characterized by the existence of hundreds of free and independent cities, interspersed into a predominantly feudal social structure.
By choosing this model and striving to create an America punctuated by a large and increasing number of territorially disconnected free cities – a multitude of Hong Kongs, Singapores, Monacos, and Liechtensteins strewn out over the entire continent – two otherwise unattainable but central objectives can be accomplished. First, besides recognizing the fact that the liberal-libertarian potential is distributed highly unevenly across the country, such a strategy of piecemeal withdrawal renders secession less threatening politically, socially, and economically. Second, by pursuing this strategy simultaneously at a great number of locations all over the country, it becomes exceedingly difficult for the central state to create the unified opposition in public opinion to the secessionists that would secure the level of popular support and voluntary cooperation necessary for a successful crackdown.
If we succeed in this endeavor, if we then proceed to return all public property into appropriate private hands and adopt a new "constitution" [such as the Covenant of Unanimous Consent!...Dennis] that declares all taxation and legislation henceforth unlawful, and if we then finally allow insurance agencies to do what they are destined to do, we truly can be proud again and America will be justified in claiming to provide an example to the rest of the world.
 On the influence of Locke and Lockean political philosophy on America, see Edmund S. Morgan, The Birth of the Republic: 1763–89 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), pp. 73–74:
On crime, protection, and defense in particular, see Terry Anderson and P.J. Hill, "The American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West," Journal of Libertarian Studies 3, no. 1 (1979); and Roger D. McGrath, Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).
 Contrary to currently popular multicultural myths, America was decidedly not a cultural "melting pot." Rather, the settlement of the North American continent confirmed the elementary sociological insight that all human societies are the outgrowth of families and kinship systems and hence are characterized by a high degree of internal homogeneity, i.e., that "likes" typically associate with "likes" and distance and separate themselves from "unlikes." Thus, for instance, in accordance with this general tendency, Puritans preferably settled in New England, Dutch Calvinists in New York, Quakers in Pennsylvania and the southern parts of New Jersey, Catholics in Maryland, and Anglicans as well as French Huguenots in the Southern colonies. See further on this David Hackett Fisher, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
 See Fritz Kern, Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Blackwell, 1948); Bertrand de Jouvenel, Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), especialy chapter 10; idem, On Power: The Natural History of its Growth (New York: Viking, 1949); and Robert Nisbet, Community and Power (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962).
"Feudalism," Nisbet sums up elsewhere (idem, Prejudices. A Philosophical Dictionary [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982], pp. 125–31),
See also notes 8, 9, and 10 below.
 See Lord Acton, "The History of Freedom in Christianity," in idem, Essays in the History of Liberty (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Classics, 1985), esp. p. 36.
 On the liberal-libertarian ideological heritage of the American settlers see Murray N. Rothbard, For A New Liberty (New York: Collier, 1978), chapter 1; idem, Conceived in Liberty, 4 vols. (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1975); and Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967).
 This fundamental insight was first clearly stated by the French-Belgian economist Gustave de Molinari in an article published in 1849 ("The Production of Security"). De Molinari reasoned
 Furthermore, in accordance with their original royal charter, the newly independent states of Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, for instance, claimed the Pacific Ocean as their western boundary; and based on such obviously unfounded, usurped ownership claims, they – and subsequently as their "legal" heir the Continental Congress and the United States – proceeded to sell western territories to private homesteaders and developers in order to pay off their debt and/or fund current government operations.
 See Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Classics, 1991), p. 118. Leoni here notes that several scholarly commentators on the Magna Carta, for instance, have pointed out that an early medieval version of the principle "no taxation without representation" was intended as "no taxation without the consent of the individual taxed," and we are told that in 1221, the Bishop of Winchester, "summoned to consent to a scutage tax, refused to pay, after the council had made the grant, on the ground that he dissented, and the Exchequer upheld his plea."
 See Kern, Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages, who writes that
Similar views concerning the permanency of law and the impermissibility of legislation were still held by the 18th-century French Physiocrats such as Mercier de la Riviere, author of a book on L'Ordre Naturel and one time governor of Martinique. Called upon for advice on how to govern by the Russian Czarina Catherine the Great, de la Riviere is reported to have replied that law must be based
See also de Jouvenel, Sovereignty, pp. 172–73 and 189.
 The much cherished modern view, according to which the adoption of "constitutional government" represents a major civilizational advance from arbitrary government to the rule of law and which attributes to the United States a prominent or even preeminent role in this historical breakthrough, then, must be considered seriously flawed. This view is not only obviously contradicted by documents such as the Magna Charta (1215) or the Golden Bull (1356) but more important, it misrepresents the nature of premodern governments. Such governments either entirely lacked the most arbitrary and tyrannical of all powers, i.e., the power to tax and legislate without consent, or even if they did possess these powers, governments were severely restricted in exercising them because such powers were widely regarded as illegitimate, i.e., as usurped rather than justly acquired. In distinct contrast, modern governments are defined by the fact that the powers to tax and legislate are recognized explicitly as legitimate; that is, all "constitutional" governments, whether in the United States or anywhere else, constitute state governments. Robert Nisbet is thus correct in noting that
 Murray N. Rothbard, Power and Market: Government and the Economy (Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1977), pp. 188–89. See further on this chapters 1–3. In light of these considerations – and in contrast to common wisdom on the matter – one reaches the same conclusion regarding the ultimate "success" of the American Revolution as H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (New York: Vintage Books, 1982):
 See on the following Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Eigentum, Anarchie und Staat. Studien zur Theorie des Kapitalismus (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1987), pp. 182ff.
 See Helmut Schoeck, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1970).
 See de Jouvenel, On Power, pp. 9-10.
 See on this the brilliant and indeed prophetic analysis by John C. Calhoun, A Disquisition on Government (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1953), esp. pp. 25–27. There Calhoun notes that a
In sum, then, Rothbard has commented on this analysis,
See also Anthony de Jasay, Against Politics: On Government, Anarchy, and Order (London: Routledge, 1997), especially chapter 2.
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Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / "Government" is a religion. (Larken Rose)
on: 2012-December-21 08:19:03 PM
|Started by DennisLeeWilson - Last post by DennisLeeWilson|
"Government" is a religion. (Larken Rose)
"Government" is a religion. (Larken Rose)
Submitted by dabooda on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 03:40
Daily Paul Liberty Forum
This post is an excerpt from Larken Rose's new book, The Most Dangerous Superstition.
Reprinted with permission of the author.
The Religion of "Government" (TMDS pp. 28-32.)
"Government" is neither a scientific concept nor a rational sociological construct; nor is it a logical, practical method of human organization and cooperation. The belief in "government" is not based on reason; it is based on faith. In truth, the belief in "government" is a religion, made up of a set of dogmatic teachings, irrational doctrines which fly in the face of both evidence and logic, and which are methodically memorized and repeated by the faithful. Like other religions, the gospel of "government" describes a superhuman, supernatural entity, above mere mortals, which issues commandments to the peasantry, for whom unquestioning obedience is a moral imperative. Disobedience to the commandments ("breaking the law") is viewed as a sin, and the faithful delight in the punishment of the infidels and sinners ("criminals"), while at the same time taking great pride in their own loyalty and humble subservience to their god (as "law-abiding taxpayers") And while the mortals may humbly beg their lord for favors, and for permission to do certain things, it is considered blasphemous and outrageous for one of the lowly peasants to imagine himself to be fit to decide which of the "government" god's "laws" he should follow and which it is okay for him to ignore. Their mantra is, "You can work to try to change the law, but as long as it's the law, we all have to follow it!"
The main factor distinguishing the belief in "government" from other religions today is that people actually believe in the god called "government." The other gods people claim to believe in, and the churches they attend, are now, by comparison, little more than empty rituals and half-heartedly parroted superstitions. When it comes to their everyday lives, the god that people actually pray to, to save them from misfortune, to smite their enemies, and to shower them with blessings, is "government." It is "government" whose commandments the people most often respect and obey. Whenever a conflict arises between "government" and the teachings of the lesser gods -- such as "pay your fair share" (taxation) versus "Thou shalt not steal," or "duty to country" (military service) versus "Thou shalt not murder" -- the commands of "government supersede all the teachings of the other religions. Politicians, the high priests of the church of "government" -- the mouthpieces and representatives of "government," who deliver the sacred "law" from on high -- even openly declare that it is permissible for the people to practice whatever religion they wish, as long as they do not run afoul of the supreme religion by disobeying "the law" -- meaning the dictates of the god called "government."
Perhaps most telling is that if you suggest to the average person that maybe God does not exist, he will likely respond with less emotion and hostility than if you bring up the idea of life without "government." This indicates which religion people are more deeply emotionally attached to, and which religion they actually believe in more firmly. In fact, they believe so deeply in "government" that they do not even recognize it as being a belief at all. The reason so many people respond to the idea of a stateless society ("anarchy") with insults, apocalyptic predictions and emotional tantrums, rather than with calm reasoning, is because their belief in "government" is not the result of careful, rational consideration of evidence and logic. It is, in every way, a religious faith, believed only because of prolonged indoctrination. And there is almost nothing which state-worshipers find more existentially terrifying than contemplating the possibility that "government" -- their savior and protector, teacher and master -- does not actually exist, and never did.
It might be nice to have some morally superior, all-powerful deity to protect the innocent and to prevent injustice. And that is what statists hope "government" will be: a wise, unbiased, all-knowing and all-powerful "final decider" that will override and supersede the flawed, shortsighted and selfish whims of man, unerringly dispensing justice and fairness. However, there is no such thing, and can be no such thing, and there are many reasons why it is utterly foolish to look to "government" as the solution to human imperfection. For example, what almost every statist wants is for "government" to enforce objective rules of civilized behavior. More specifically, each individual wants his own perception of justice and morality to be enforced by "authority," while failing to realize that the moment there is an "authority," it is no longer up to that individual to decide what counts as moral or just -- the "authority" will claim the right to do that for him. And so, over and over again, believers in "authority" have tried to create an all-powerful force for good by anointing some people as rulers, only to quickly learn that once the master is on the throne, he does not care what his slaves were hoping he would do with the power they gave him.
To expect otherwise, even without all of the historical examples, is absurd. To expect the master to serve the slave -- to expect power to be used solely for the benefit of the one being controlled, not the one in control -- is ridiculous. What makes it even more insane is that statists claim that appointing rulers is the only way to overcome the imperfections and untrustworthiness of man. Statists look out at a world full of strangers who have questionable motives and dubious morality, and they are afraid of what some of those people might do. That, in and of itself, is a perfectly reasonable concern. But then, as protection against what some of those people might do, the statists advocate giving some of those same people of questionable virtue a huge amount of power, and societal permission to rule over everyone else, in the vain hope that, by some miracle, those people will happen to decide to use their new-found power only for good. In other words, the statist looks at his fellow man and thinks, "I do not trust you to be my neighbor, but I do trust you to be my master."
Bizarrely, almost every statist admits that politicians are more dishonest, corrupt, conniving and selfish than most people, but still insists that civilization can exist only if those particularly untrustworthy people are given both the power and the right to forcibly control everyone else. Believers in "government" truly believe that the only thing that can keep them safe from the flaws of human nature is taking some of those flawed humans -- some of the most flawed, in fact -- and appointing them as gods, with the right to dominate all of mankind, in the absurd hope that, if given such tremendous power, such people will use it only for good. And the fact that that has never happened in the history of the world does not stop statists from insisting that it "needs" to happen to ensure peaceful civilization.
The belief in "government" does not make everyone agree; it only creates an opportunity to drastically escalate personal disagreements into large-scale wars and mass oppression. Nor does having an "authority" settling a dispute do anything to guarantee that the "right" side wins. Yet statists talk as if "government" will be fair, reasonable, and rational in situations where individuals would not be. Again, this demonstrates that believers in "government" imagine "authority" to have super-human virtues that should be trusted above the virtues of mere mortals. History shows otherwise. A twisted sense of morality in one person, or a few, can result in the murder of one person, or even dozens, but that same twisted sense of morality in just a few people, when they get hold of the machine called "government," can result in the murder of millions. The statist wants his idea of the "good rules" forced on everyone by a central "authority," but has no way to make that happen and no reason to expect that it will happen. In their search for an all-powerful "good guy" to save the day, statists always end up creating all-powerful bad guys. Over and over again, they build giant, unstoppable "government" monsters in the hope that they will defend the innocent, only to find that the monsters become a far greater threat to the innocent than the threats they were created to protect against.
Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / The Myth of the Morally Superior Yankee
on: 2012-December-20 05:25:45 PM
|Started by DennisLeeWilson - Last post by DennisLeeWilson|
The Myth of the Morally Superior Yankee
The Myth of the Morally Superior Yankee
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"Hillary Clinton is a museum-quality specimen of a Yankee — self-righteous, ruthless, self-aggrandizing"
~ Clyde Wilson
Being born and raised in Pennsylvania, I am a northerner but not a Yankee. The same is true of my friend Lew Rockwell, a native of Massachusetts who would qualify for membership in Sons of Union Veterans. The word "Yankee" gained popularity in the early to mid nineteenth century to describe a particular brand of New Englander: arrogant, hypocritical, unfriendly, condescending, intolerant, extremely self-righteous, and believing that he and his were God's chosen people.
Yankees have never shied away from using the coercive powers of the state to compel others to be remade in their image. That's why compulsory government schooling originated in New England, as did prohibitionism. It's also why Stalinism took hold in the North (especially in New York City) in the twentieth century, as did its offshoot, neoconservativism, in more recent times. Indeed, many of the more notorious neoconservatives openly admit that they were Stalinists in their youth and have never fully abandoned those beliefs.
At the outbreak of the War to Prevent Southern Independence there was a vigorous secession movement in what were known then as the Middle States — Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey. During the war there were thousands of Northern "peace Democrats" who opposed Lincoln and his Yankee cabal. These people, who were essentially Jeffersonians, had one thing in common with the Southern Confederates: they despised the arrogant, pushy, greedy, and insufferably self-righteous Yankees. They were ruthlessly censored and imprisoned by the tens of thousands by the Lincoln government. When they rioted over military conscription, the Yankee army shot them dead in the streets by the hundreds if not thousands (See Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots).
The idea of Yankee moral superiority was carefully crafted almost from the time of the Pilgrims. By 1861, New England Yankees and their Midwestern cousins had concocted the myth of a free, white, and virtuous New England that, by virtue of its moral superiority, had a right to remake all other sections of the U.S. in its own image, creating a Heaven on Earth (i.e., the New England-ization of North America). A corollary of this myth was the notion of the morally corrupt, slave-owning South.
But the notion of a morally superior New England Yankee nation is all a myth, as is explained in great detail by Joanne Pope Melish in her book, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England, 1780—1860 (Cornell University Press, 1998). Professor Melish, who teaches at the University of Kentucky, documents how New England propagandists rewrote their own history, not unlike how the Soviets rewrote Russian history, to say that slavery in that part of the country was only very brief and very benevolent.
The truth of the matter is that slavery existed in New England for more than 200 years (beginning in 1638) and it was every bit as degrading and dehumanizing as slavery anywhere. In mid eighteenth century Rhode Island slaves accounted for as much as one third of the population in many communities. Newport, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts, were the two biggest hubs of the transatlantic slave trade. Many slaves worked in the shipping industry in New England. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island were the three biggest Northern slave-owning states.
Virtually all of the household and farm labor of New England's aristocracy was done by slaves, Professor Melish shows. "These servants performed the dirty, heavy, dangerous, menial jobs around the household, or they acted in inferior roles as valets and maids to masters and mistresses of the upper class" (p 17).
Professor Melish documents the pervasive sexual abuse of slaves by their New England slave masters. The famous New England cleric Cotton Mather advised his fellow Yankees to Christianize their slaves so that they will become even better slaves. "Your servants will be the Better Servants," Mather preached, "for being made Christian servants" (p. 32). Christianize your slaves, and they will be "afraid of speaking or doing any thing that may justly displeasure you." All of this history has been whitewashed and hidden by politically-correct, Northern historians for generations.
With the growth of industry that required a more and more educated and skilled labor force, slavery became uneconomical. So, beginning in the late eighteenth century gradual emancipation laws were introduced in New England. In general, these laws stated that the children of existing slaves would be freed upon reaching a certain age, usually either 21 or 25. In principle, a one-year old slave in the year 1784, who had a child at age 25, would remain a slave for life, but his or her child would be freed in around 1834.
Slaves were included in the New England population census for 1840, and as late as 1848 Rhode Island was passing new laws outlawing slavery. New Hampshire passed a new law outlawing slavery there even later — in 1857.
Some New England slave owners kept their slaves in ignorance of the gradual emancipation laws, or never told them exactly when they were born to keep them enslaved as long as possible, in violation of the laws.
Many New England slave owners did not free their young slaves upon reaching age 21 or 25, but sold them to Southern plantation owners. Slavery may have ended, but these men did not free their slaves.
Along with gradual, peaceful emancipation was the belief among most New Englanders that all blacks were aliens and should either be deported or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson insisted, they would "follow the Dodo into extinction" (p. 285). As soon as gradual emancipation laws were passed there were accompanying laws that would assure that "free" blacks would never be granted anything like citizenship. "A complicated system of seizures, fines, whippings, and other punishments for a legion of illegal activities" was imposed, Stalin-style, on the small number of free blacks in New England (p. 69).
Freed slaves were denied titles to property, which tended to pauperize them. Then vagrancy laws were passed so that various communities could deport as many free blacks as possible from their midst. Free blacks were routinely accused of "disturbing the peace" and subsequently deported out of their communities.
New Englanders announced over and over that they didn't believe black people were capable of citizenship and did everything they could to get rid of them. The American Colonization Society was very active in New England. This organization raised funds to deport blacks to Liberia and other foreign lands. By 1861 some 12,000 free blacks had been deported to Liberia, most of whom perished there. To New Englanders, "abolition" meant the complete absence of black people from their "chosen land." As Emerson stated, "the abolitionist wishes to abolish slavery, but because he wishes to abolish the black man" (p. 164). That would "restore New England to an idealized original state as an orderly, homogenous, white society. A free New England would be a white New England" (p. 64).
In the first half of the nineteenth century New Englanders were bombarded with graphic and literary representations of blacks as being preposterous, stupid, or evil. Melish reproduces some of these vulgar, racist posters in her book.
There was a New England version of the Ku Klux Klan as well, in the form of roving gangs that conducted "terroristic, armed raids on urban black communities and the institutions that served them" (p. 165). So it turns out the "Klan," like the Black Codes, was a New England invention.
Free blacks in New England in the first half of the nineteenth century were lampooned and savagely ridiculed publicly, urged to leave the country, attacked, rioted against, excluded from juries, and even from cemeteries. Black graves were dug up so that white cemeteries would not be "tainted." "The corpses of people of color seem to have become a target of grave robbers," writes Melish (p. 186). Black children were excluded from most public schools, even though their working parents were taxpayers.
Entire predominantly black communities in New England were assaulted and burned to the ground, Sherman style. "By the early 1820s whites had begun to apply a strategy for their [blacks'] physical removal — assaulting their communities, burning down their homes, and attacking their advocates" (p. 199). There was, writes Professor Melish, a "crescendo of mob violence against people of color" in the 1830s with as many as a hundred violent incidents between 1820 and 1840.
All of this violence was motivated by the fundamental New England belief that black people were "anomalous and troublesome strangers." The ultimate objective of all the violence and harassment was to realize the "promise" that "Negroes would slowly diminish in number until finally they would disappear altogether" (p. 209). Keep this in mind the next time you see one of those gushy, touchy-feely speeches by a Joshua Chamberlain character in a "Civil War" movie that attempts to portray what a benevolent and charitable attitude the Yankee soldiers had toward blacks in the South.
The degraded situation of the poor, hapless ex-slaves of New England was a direct result of both slavery and the savage, institutionalized discrimination against them by new Englanders. By 1853 Frederick Douglas would observe the situation in New England and ask, "What stone has been left unturned to degrade us? What hand has refused to inflame the popular prejudice against us? What whit has not laughed at us in our wretchedness?"
New England Yankees did not blame any of this on themselves. The reason why New England's black population was in such dire straights, they said, was Southern slavery. This makes no sense at all, but it was repeated often enough that the idea apparently took hold. Indeed, this notion is alive and well today; Melish cites contemporary social scientists who insist that racism in the North is not the fault of Northerners but has supposedly been imported from the South. (As someone who grew up in the North, I can attest that this is unequivocally false).
This is how the myth of the morally superior Yankee came into being — by rewriting 200 years of New England history. By 1861 this Yankee myth pervaded much of the North, especially the Midwest, where New Englanders had been migrating to for generations. At the time, states like Illinois constitutionally prohibited the emigration of black people into the state, deprived the miniscule number of free blacks there of any semblance of citizenship, and actively attempted deportation with the help of state colonization societies. Abraham Lincoln was the head of the Illinois Colonization Society and he supported the allocation of tax funds to be used to deport free blacks from Illinois.
When the extension of slavery into the new territories became a big issue, one of the chief reasons Northerners were opposed to it was that they intended to New England-ize the territories, and that meant keeping them all white. That could never occur with either slaves or free blacks there. This policy — and Lincoln's support of it — is one reason why Ebony magazine editor Lerone Bennett, Jr. wrote such a passionate and scathing criticism of Lincoln in his book, Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream a few years ago.
As early as 1784, an American dictionary quoted a British visitor to America as saying "New Englanders are disliked by the inhabitants of all the other provinces, by whom they are called Yankeys . . ." (Melish, p. 236). By 1865, the Yankee victory in the war marked "the stunning success of the cultural imperialism" that was a salient feature of New England nationalism. At that point "New England had become the nation and, in the process, the nation had become New England" (p. 236).
This is why very few Americans have ever been exposed to American history. What they have been indoctrinated in by the government-run schools is the self-righteous and self-serving New England version of American history, the paramount idea of which is myth of Yankee moral superiority. In other words, they have been taught one big bundle of lies that serves primarily to glorify the centralized state that we all slave under today.
February 10, 2004
Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, which was just re-released in paperback with a new chapter by Three Rivers Press/Random House.
Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com
Really Learn About the Real Lincoln
Now there is a study guide and video to accompany Professor DiLorenzo's great work, for homeschoolers and indeed anyone interested in real American history.
Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / Society Without a State
on: 2012-December-09 03:20:09 PM
|Started by DennisLeeWilson - Last post by DennisLeeWilson|
Society Without a State
If you are serious about creating a government, you MUST be able to address and refute (not simply ignore) the points made in this article!
How Would Anarcho-Capitalism Work?
We don't need state overlords, says Murray Rothbard.
Society Without a State
by Murray N. Rothbard
Murray Rothbard delivered this talk 32 years ago at the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (ASPLP), Washington, DC: December 28, 1974. It was first published in The Libertarian Forum, volume 7.1, January 1975, available in PDF.
In attempting to outline how a "society without a state" – that is, an anarchist society – might function successfully, I would first like to defuse two common but mistaken criticisms of this approach. First, is the argument that in providing for such defense or protection services as courts, police, or even law itself, I am simply smuggling the state back into society in another form, and that therefore the system I am both analyzing and advocating is not "really" anarchism.
This sort of criticism can only involve us in an endless and arid dispute over semantics. Let me say from the beginning that I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as "taxation"; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. An institution not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, in accordance with my definition, a state.
On the other hand, I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of an individual. Anarchists oppose the state because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.
Nor is our definition of the state arbitrary, for these two characteristics have been possessed by what is generally acknowledged to be states throughout recorded history. The state, by its use of physical coercion, has arrogated to itself a compulsory monopoly of defense services over its territorial jurisdiction. But it is certainly conceptually possible for such services to be supplied by private, non-state institutions, and indeed such services have historically been supplied by other organizations than the state. To be opposed to the state is then not necessarily to be opposed to services that have often been linked with it; to be opposed to the state does not necessarily imply that we must be opposed to police protection, courts, arbitration, the minting of money, postal service, or roads and highways. Some anarchists have indeed been opposed to police and to all physical coercion in defense of person and property, but this is not inherent in and is fundamentally irrelevant to the anarchist position, which is precisely marked by opposition to all physical coercion invasive of, or aggressing against, person and property.
The crucial role of taxation may be seen in the fact that the state is the only institution or organization in society which regularly and systematically acquires its income through the use of physical coercion. All other individuals or organizations acquire their income voluntarily, either (1) through the voluntary sale of goods and services to consumers on the market, or (2) through voluntary gifts or donations by members or other donors. If I cease or refrain from purchasing Wheaties on the market, the Wheaties producers do not come after me with a gun or the threat of imprisonment to force me to purchase; if I fail to join the American Philosophical Association, the association may not force me to join or prevent me from giving up my membership. Only the state can do so; only the state can confiscate my property or put me in jail if I do not pay its tax tribute. Therefore, only the state regularly exists and has its very being by means of coercive depredations on private property.
Neither is it legitimate to challenge this sort of analysis by claiming that in some other sense, the purchase of Wheaties or membership in the APA is in some way "coercive." Anyone who is still unhappy with this use of the term "coercion" can simply eliminate the word from this discussion and substitute for it "physical violence or the threat thereof," with the only loss being in literary style rather than in the substance of the argument. What anarchism proposes to do, then, is to abolish the state, that is, to abolish the regularized institution of aggressive coercion.
It need hardly be added that the state habitually builds upon its coercive source of income by adding a host of other aggressions upon society, ranging from economic controls to the prohibition of pornography to the compelling of religious observance to the mass murder of civilians in organized warfare. In short, the state, in the worlds of Albert Jay Nock, "claims and exercises a monopoly of crime" over its territorial area.
The second criticism I would like to defuse before beginning the main body of the paper is the common charge that anarchists "assume that all people are good" and that without the state no crime would be committed. In short, that anarchism assumes that with the abolition of the state a New Anarchist Man will emerge, cooperative, humane, and benevolent, so that no problem of crime will then plague the society. I confess that I do not understand the basis for this charge. Whatever other schools of anarchism profess – and I do not believe that they are open to the charge – I certainly do not adopt this view. I assume with most observers that mankind is a mixture of good and evil, of cooperative and criminal tendencies.
In my view, the anarchist society is one which maximizes the tendencies for the good and the cooperative, while it minimizes both the opportunity and the moral legitimacy of the evil and the criminal. If the anarchist view is correct and the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale, then surely the abolition of such an engine of crime can do nothing but favor the good in man and discourage the bad.
A further point: in a profound sense, no social system, whether anarchist or statist, can work at all unless most people are "good" in the sense that they are not all hell-bent upon assaulting and robbing their neighbors. If everyone were so disposed, no amount of protection, whether state or private, could succeed in staving off chaos. Furthermore, the more that people are disposed to be peaceful and not aggress against their neighbors, the more successfully any social system will work, and the fewer resources will need to be devoted to police protection. The anarchist view holds that, given the "nature of man," given the degree of goodness or badness at any point in time, anarchism will maximize the opportunities for the good and minimize the channels for the bad. The rest depends on the values held by the individual members of society. The only further point that needs to be made is that by eliminating the living example and the social legitimacy of the massive legalized crime of the state, anarchism will to a large extent promote peaceful values in the minds of the public.
We cannot of course deal here with the numerous arguments in favor of anarchism or against the state, moral, political, and economic. Nor can we take up the various goods and services now provided by the state and show how private individuals and groups will be able to supply them far more efficiently on the free market. Here we can only deal with perhaps the most difficult area, the area where it is almost universally assumed that the state must exist and act, even if it is only a "necessary evil" instead of a positive good: the vital realm of defense or protection of person and property against aggression. Surely, it is universally asserted, the state is at least vitally necessary to provide police protection, the judicial resolution of disputes and enforcement of contracts, and the creation of the law itself that is to be enforced. My contention is that all of these admittedly necessary services of protection can be satisfactorily and efficiently supplied by private persons and institutions on the free market.
One important caveat before we begin the body of this paper: new proposals such as anarchism are almost always gauged against the implicit assumption that the present, or statist system works to perfection. Any lacunae or difficulties with the picture of the anarchist society are considered net liabilities, and enough to dismiss anarchism out of hand. It is, in short, implicitly assumed that the state is doing its self-assumed job of protecting person and property to perfection. We cannot here go into the reasons why the state is bound to suffer inherently from grave flaws and inefficiencies in such a task. All we need do now is to point to the black and unprecedented record of the state through history: no combination of private marauders can possibly begin to match the state's unremitting record of theft, confiscation, oppression, and mass murder. No collection of Mafia or private bank robbers can begin to compare with all the Hiroshimas, Dresdens, and Lidices and their analogues through the history of mankind.
This point can be made more philosophically: it is illegitimate to compare the merits of anarchism and statism by starting with the present system as the implicit given and then critically examining only the anarchist alternative. What we must do is to begin at the zero point and then critically examine both suggested alternatives. Suppose, for example, that we were all suddenly dropped down on the earth de novo and that we were all then confronted with the question of what societal arrangements to adopt. And suppose then that someone suggested: "We are all bound to suffer from those of us who wish to aggress against their fellow men. Let us then solve this problem of crime by handing all of our weapons to the Jones family, over there, by giving all of our ultimate power to settle disputes to that family. In that way, with their monopoly of coercion and of ultimate decision making, the Jones family will be able to protect each of us from each other." I submit that this proposal would get very short shrift, except perhaps from the Jones family themselves. And yet this is precisely the common argument for the existence of the state. When we start from zero point, as in the case of the Jones family, the question of "who will guard the guardians?" becomes not simply an abiding lacuna in the theory of the state but an overwhelming barrier to its existence.
A final caveat: the anarchist is always at a disadvantage in attempting to forecast the shape of the future anarchist society. For it is impossible for observers to predict voluntary social arrangements, including the provision of goods and services, on the free market. Suppose, for example, that this were the year 1874 and that someone predicted that eventually there would be a radio-manufacturing industry. To be able to make such a forecast successfully, does he have to be challenged to state immediately how many radio manufacturers there would be a century hence, how big they would be, where they would be located, what technology and marketing techniques they would use, and so on? Obviously, such a challenge would make no sense, and in a profound sense the same is true of those who demand a precise portrayal of the pattern of protection activities on the market. Anarchism advocates the dissolution of the state into social and market arrangements, and these arrangements are far more flexible and less predictable than political institutions. The most that we can do, then, is to offer broad guidelines and perspectives on the shape of a projected anarchist society.
One important point to make here is that the advance of modern technology makes anarchistic arrangements increasingly feasible. Take, for example, the case of lighthouses, where it is often charged that it is unfeasible for private lighthouse operators to row out to each ship to charge it for use of the light. Apart from the fact that this argument ignores the successful existence of private lighthouses in earlier days, as in England in the eighteenth century, another vital consideration is that modern electronic technology makes charging each ship for the light far more feasible. Thus, the ship would have to have paid for an electronically controlled beam which could then be automatically turned on for those ships which had paid for the service.
Let us turn now to the problem of how disputes – in particular disputes over alleged violations of person and property – would be resolved in an anarchist society. First, it should be noted that all disputes involve two parties: the plaintiff, the alleged victim of the crime or tort and the defendant, the alleged aggressor. In many cases of broken contract, of course, each of the two parties alleging that the other is the culprit is at the same time a plaintiff and a defendant.
An important point to remember is that any society, be it statist or anarchist, has to have some way of resolving disputes that will gain a majority consensus in society. There would be no need for courts or arbitrators if everyone were omniscient and knew instantaneously which persons were guilty of any given crime or violation of contract. Since none of us is omniscient, there has to be some method of deciding who is the criminal or lawbreaker which will gain legitimacy; in short, whose decision will be accepted by the great majority of the public.
In the first place, a dispute may be resolved voluntarily between the two parties themselves, either unaided or with the help of a third mediator. This poses no problem, and will automatically be accepted by society at large. It is so accepted even now, much less in a society imbued with the anarchistic values of peaceful cooperation and agreement. Secondly and similarly, the two parties, unable to reach agreement, may decide to submit voluntarily to the decision of an arbitrator. This agreement may arise either after a dispute has arisen, or be provided for in advance in the original contract. Again, there is no problem in such an arrangement gaining legitimacy. Even in the present statist era, the notorious inefficiency and coercive and cumbersome procedures of the politically run government courts has led increasing numbers of citizens to turn to voluntary and expert arbitration for a speedy and harmonious settling of disputes.
Thus, William C. Wooldridge has written that
Wooldridge adds the important point that, in addition to the speed of arbitration procedures vis-à-vis the courts, the arbitrators can proceed as experts in disregard of the official government law; in a profound sense, then, they serve to create a voluntary body of private law. "In other words," states Wooldridge, "the system of extralegal, voluntary courts has progressed hand in hand with a body of private law; the rules of the state are circumvented by the same process that circumvents the forums established for the settlement of disputes over those rules…. In short, a private agreement between two people, a bilateral 'law,' has supplanted the official law. The writ of the sovereign has ceased to run, and for it is substituted a rule tacitly or explicitly agreed to by the parties." Wooldridge concludes that "if an arbitrator can choose to ignore a penal damage rule or the status of limitations applicable to the claim before him (and it is generally conceded that he has that power), arbitration can be viewed as a practically revolutionary instrument for self-liberation from the law…."
It may be objected that arbitration only works successfully because the courts enforce the award of the arbitrator. Wooldridge points out, however, that arbitration was unenforceable in the American courts before 1920, but that this did not prevent voluntary arbitration from being successful and expanding in the United States and in England. He points, furthermore, to the successful operations of merchant courts since the Middle Ages, those courts which successfully developed the entire body of the law merchant. None of those courts possessed the power of enforcement. He might have added the private courts of shippers which developed the body of admiralty law in a similar way.
How then did these private, "anarchistic," and voluntary courts ensure the acceptance of their decisions? By the method of social ostracism, and by the refusal to deal any further with the offending merchant. This method of voluntary "enforcement," indeed provided highly successful. Wooldridge writes that "the merchants' courts were voluntary, and if a man ignored their judgment, he could not be sent to jail…. Nevertheless, it is apparent that … [their] decisions were generally respected even by the losers; otherwise people would never have used them in the first place…. Merchants made their courts work simply by agreeing to abide by the results. The merchant who broke the understanding would not be sent to jail, to be sure, but neither would he long continue to be a merchant, for the compliance exacted by his fellows … provide if anything more effective than physical coercion." Nor did this voluntary method fail to work in modern times. Wooldridge writes that it was precisely in the years before 1920, when arbitration awards could not be enforced in the courts,
It should also be pointed out that modern technology makes even more feasible the collection and dissemination of information about people's credit ratings and records of keeping or violating their contracts or arbitration agreements. Presumably, an anarchist society would see the expansion of this sort of dissemination of data and thereby facilitate the ostracism or boycotting of contract and arbitration violators.
How would arbitrators be selected in an anarchist society? In the same way as they are chosen now, and as they were chosen in the days of strictly voluntary arbitration: the arbitrators with the best reputation for efficiency and probity would be chosen by the various parties on the market. As in other processes of the market, the arbitrators with the best record in settling disputes will come to gain an increasing amount of business, and those with poor records will no longer enjoy clients and will have to shift to another line of endeavor. Here it must be emphasized that parties in dispute will seek out those arbitrators with the best reputation for both expertise and impartiality and that inefficient or biased arbitrators will rapidly have to find another occupation.
Thus, the Tannehills emphasize:
If desired, furthermore, the contracting parties could provide in advance for a series of arbitrators:
Arbitration, then, poses little difficulty for a portrayal of the free society. But what of torts or crimes of aggression where there has been no contract? Or suppose that the breaker of a contract defies the arbitration award? Is ostracism enough? In short, how can courts develop in the free-market anarchist society which will have the power to enforce judgments against criminals or contract breakers?
In the wide sense, defense service consists of guards or police who use force in defending person and property against attack, and judges or courts whose role is to use socially accepted procedures to determine who the criminals or tortfeasors are, as well as to enforce judicial awards, such as damages or the keeping of contracts. On the free market, many scenarios are possible on the relationship between the private courts and the police; they may be "vertically integrated," for example, or their services may be supplied by separate firms. Furthermore, it seems likely that police service will be supplied by insurance companies who will provide crime insurance to their clients. In that case, insurance companies will pay off the victims of crime or the breaking of contracts or arbitration awards and then pursue the aggressors in court to recoup their losses. There is a natural market connection between insurance companies and defense service, since they need pay out less benefits in proportion as they are able to keep down the rate of crime.
Courts might either charge fees for their services, with the losers of cases obliged to pay court costs, or else they may subsist on monthly or yearly premiums by their clients, who may be either individuals or the police or insurance agencies. Suppose, for example, that Smith is an aggrieved party, either because he has been assaulted or robbed, or because an arbitration award in his favor has not been honored. Smith believes that Jones is the party guilty of the crime. Smith then goes to a court, Court A, of which he is a client, and brings charges against Jones as a defendant. In my view, the hallmark of an anarchist society is one where no man may legally compel someone who is not a convicted criminal to do anything, since that would be aggression against an innocent man's person or property. Therefore, Court A can only invite rather than subpoena Jones to attend his trial. Of course, if Jones refused to appear or send a representative, his side of the case will not be heard. The trial of Jones proceeds. Suppose that Court A finds Jones innocent. In my view, part of the generally accepted law code of the anarchist society (on which see further below) is that this must end the matter unless Smith can prove charges of gross incompetence or bias on the part of the court.
Suppose, next, that Court A finds Jones guilty. Jones might accept the verdict, because he too is a client of the same court, because he knows he is guilty, or for some other reason. In that case, Court A proceeds to exercise judgment against Jones. Neither of these instances poses very difficult problems for our picture of the anarchist society. But suppose, instead, that Jones contests the decision; he then goes to his court, Court B, and the case is retried there. Suppose that Court B, too, finds Jones guilty. Again, it seems to me that the accepted law code of the anarchist society will assert that this ends the matter; both parties have had their say in courts which each has selected, and the decision for guilt is unanimous.
Suppose, however, the most difficult case: that Court B finds Jones innocent. The two courts, each subscribed to by one of the two parties, have split their verdicts. In that case, the two courts will submit the case to an appeals court, or arbitrator, which the two courts agree upon. There seems to be no real difficulty about the concept of an appeals court. As in the case of arbitration contracts, it seems very likely that the various private courts in the society will have prior agreements to submit their disputes to a particular appeals court. How will the appeals judges be chosen? Again, as in the case of arbitrators or of the first judges on the free market, they will be chosen for their expertise and their reputation for efficiency, honesty, and integrity. Obviously, appeals judges who are inefficient or biased will scarcely be chosen by courts who will have a dispute. The point here is that there is no need for a legally established or institutionalized single, monopoly appeals court system, as states now provide. There is no reason why there cannot arise a multitude of efficient and honest appeals judges who will be selected by the disputant courts, just as there are numerous private arbitrators on the market today. The appeals court renders its decision, and the courts proceed to enforce it if, in our example, Jones is considered guilty – unless, of course, Jones can prove bias in some other court proceedings.
No society can have unlimited judicial appeals, for in that case there would be no point to having judges or courts at all. Therefore, every society, whether statist or anarchist, will have to have some socially accepted cutoff point for trials and appeals. My suggestion is the rule that the agreement of any two courts, be decisive. "Two" is not an arbitrary figure, for it reflects the fact that there are two parties, the plaintiff and the defendant, to any alleged crime or contract dispute.
If the courts are to be empowered to enforce decision against guilty parties, does this not bring back the state in another form and thereby negate anarchism? No, for at the beginning of this paper I explicitly defined anarchism in such a way as not to rule out the use of defensive force – force in defense of person and property – by privately supported agencies. In the same way, it is not bringing back the state to allow persons to use force to defend themselves against aggression, or to hire guards or police agencies to defend them.
It should be noted, however, that in the anarchist society there will be no "district attorney" to press charges on behalf of "society." Only the victims [or the victim's agents...dlw] will press charges as the plaintiffs. If, then, these victims should happen to be absolute pacifists who are opposed even to defensive force, then they will simply not press charges in the courts or otherwise retaliate against those who have aggressed against them. In a free society that would be their right. If the victim should suffer from murder, then his heir would have the right to press the charges.
What of the Hatfield-and-McCoy problem? Suppose that a Hatfield kills a McCoy, and that McCoy's heir does not belong to a private insurance, police agency, or court, and decides to retaliate himself? Since under anarchism there can be no coercion of the noncriminal, McCoy would have the perfect right to do so. No one may be compelled to bring his case to a court. Indeed, since the right to hire police or courts flows from the right of self-defense against aggression, it would be inconsistent and in contradiction to the very basis of the free society to institute such compulsion.
Suppose, then, that the surviving McCoy finds what he believes to be the guilty Hatfield and kills him in turn? What then? This is fine, except that McCoy may have to worry about charges being brought against him by a surviving Hatfield. Here it must be emphasized that in the law of the anarchist society based on defense against aggression, the courts would not be able to proceed against McCoy if in fact he killed the right Hatfield. His problem would arise if the courts should find that he made a grievous mistake and killed the wrong man; in that case, he in turn would be found guilty of murder. Surely, in most instances, individuals will wish to obviate such problems by taking their case to a court and thereby gain social acceptability for their defensive retaliation – not for the act of retaliation but for the correctness of deciding who the criminal in any given case might be. The purpose of the judicial process, indeed, is to find a way of general agreement on who might be the criminal or contract breaker in any given case. The judicial process is not a good in itself; thus, in the case of an assassination, such as Jack Ruby's murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, on public television, there is no need for a complex judicial process, since the name of the murderer is evident to all.
Will not the possibility exist of a private court that may turn venal and dishonest, or of a private police force that turns criminal and extorts money by coercion? Of course such an event may occur, given the propensities of human nature. Anarchism is not a moral cure-all. But the important point is that market forces exist to place severe checks on such possibilities, especially in contrast to a society where a state exists. For, in the first place, judges, like arbitrators, will prosper on the market in proportion to their reputation for efficiency and impartiality. Secondly, on the free market important checks and balances exist against venal courts or criminal police forces. Namely, that there are competing courts and police agencies to whom victims may turn for redress. If the "Prudential Police Agency" should turn outlaw and extract revenue from victims by coercion, the latter would have the option of turning to the "Mutual" or "Equitable" Police Agency for defense and for pressing charges against Prudential. These are the genuine "checks and balances" of the free market, genuine in contrast to the phony check and balances of a state system, where all the alleged "balancing" agencies are in the hands of one monopoly government. Indeed, given the monopoly "protection service" of a state, what is there to prevent a state from using its monopoly channels of coercion to extort money from the public? What are the checks and limits of the state? None, except for the extremely difficult course of revolution against a power with all of the guns in its hands. In fact, the state provides an easy, legitimated channel for crime and aggression, since it has its very being in the crime of tax theft, and the coerced monopoly of "protection." It is the state, indeed, that functions as a mighty "protection racket" on a giant and massive scale. It is the state that says: "Pay us for your 'protection' or else." In the light of the massive and inherent activities of the state, the danger of a "protection racket" emerging from one or more private police agencies is relatively small indeed.
Moreover, it must be emphasized that a crucial element in the power of the state is its legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the public, the fact that after centuries of propaganda, the depredations of the state are looked upon rather as benevolent services. Taxation is generally not seen as theft, nor war as mass murder, nor conscription as slavery. Should a private police agency turn outlaw, should "Prudential" become a protection racket, it would then lack the social legitimacy which the state has managed to accrue to itself over the centuries. "Prudential" would be seen by all as bandits, rather than as legitimate or divinely appointed "sovereigns" bent on promoting the "common good" or the "general welfare." And lacking such legitimacy, "Prudential" would have to face the wrath of the public and the defense and retaliation of the other private defense agencies, the police and courts, on the free market. Given these inherent checks and limits, a successful transformation from a free society to bandit rule becomes most unlikely. Indeed, historically, it has been very difficult for a state to arise to supplant a stateless society; usually, it has come about through external conquest rather than by evolution from within a society.
Within the anarchist camp, there has been much dispute on whether the private courts would have to be bound by a basic, common law code. Ingenious attempts have been made to work out a system where the laws or standards of decision-making by the courts would differ completely from one to another. But in my view all would have to abide by the basic law code, in particular, prohibition of aggression against person and property, in order to fulfill our definition of anarchism as a system which provides no legal sanction for such aggression. Suppose, for example, that one group of people in society holds that all redheads are demons who deserve to be shot on sight. Suppose that Jones, one of this group, shoots Smith, a redhead. Suppose that Smith or his heir presses charges in a court, but that Jones's court, in philosophic agreement with Jones, finds him innocent therefore. It seems to me that in order to be considered legitimate, any court would have to follow the basic libertarian law code of the inviolate right of person and property. For otherwise, courts might legally subscribe to a code which sanctions such aggression in various cases, and which to that extent would violate the definition of anarchism and introduce, if not the state, then a strong element of statishness or legalized aggression into the society.
But again I see no insuperable difficulties here. For in that case, anarchists, in agitating for their creed, will simply include in their agitation the idea of a general libertarian law code as part and parcel of the anarchist creed of abolition of legalized aggression against person or property in the society.
In contrast to the general law code, other aspects of court decisions could legitimately vary in accordance with the market or the wishes of the clients; for example, the language the cases will be conducted in, the number of judges to be involved, and so on.
There are other problems of the basic law code which there is no time to go into here: for example, the definition of just property titles or the question of legitimate punishment of convicted offenders – though the latter problem of course exists in statist legal systems as well. The basic point, however, is that the state is not needed to arrive at legal principles or their elaboration: indeed, much of the common law, the law merchant, admiralty law, and private law in general, grew up apart from the state, by judges not making the law but finding it on the basis of agreed-upon principles derived either from custom or reason. The idea that the state is needed to make law is as much a myth as that the state is needed to supply postal or police services.
Enough has been said here, I believe, to indicate that an anarchist system for settling disputes would be both viable and self-subsistent: that once adopted, it could work and continue indefinitely. How to arrive at that system is of course a very different problem, but certainly at the very least it will not likely come about unless people are convinced of its workability, are convinced, in short, that the state is not a necessary evil.
 William C. Wooldridige, Uncle Sam, the Monopoly Man (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1970), p. 101.
 Ibid., pp. 103–104.
 Ibid., pp. 95–96.
 Ibid., pp. 100–101.
 Morris and Linda Tannehill, The Market for Liberty (Lansing, Michigan: privately printed, 1970), pp. 65–67.
 Ibid., p. 68.
 E.g., David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom (New York: Harper and Row, 1973).
 For an elaboration of these points, see Murray N. Rothbard, For a New Liberty (New York: Macmillan, 1973).
 Thus, see Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law (Princeton, New Jersey: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1961).
Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian School, founder of modern libertarianism, and chief academic officer of the Mises Institute. He was also editor – with Lew Rockwell – of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and appointed Lew as his executor. See his books.
Copyright © 2012 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided full credit is given.
The Best of Murray Rothbard
Atlas Shrugged Celebration Day / Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project / The Perilous Ambiguities in the Constitution by EDWARD CLINE
on: 2012-November-25 09:06:42 PM
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Judge Narragansett's New Constitution Project
[2009-09-18] The Perilous Ambiguities in the Constitution by EDWARD CLINE
The Perilous Ambiguities in the Constitution
by EDWARD CLINE
September 18, 2009
The rectangle of light in the acres of a farm was the window of the library of Judge Narragansett. He sat at a table, and the light of his lamp fell on the copy of an ancient document. He had marked and crossed out the contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now adding a new clause to its pages: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade….”*
Writing about the presumption and power of Congress to enact health-care legislation, Andrew P. Napolitano in his Wall Street Journal article “Health-Care Reform and the Constitution” (September 15th) states unambiguously that the power is non-existent – that is, that the power is not one of the enumerated powers granted to Congress. It is irrelevant, he states, that politicians, and even the Supreme Court, believe that the term regulate means control of the movement or existence of commodities and services via taxation, quotas, or any other species of interventionism across state lines or within them.
Napolitano limits his article to the subject of health insurance and why it is not “regulated” by Congress. He notes that all 50 states prohibit the sale of such insurance across state lines, e.g., a company or broker domiciled and licensed in Virginia being prohibited from selling policies in Maryland, unless the company is also domiciled and licensed in Maryland to sell much the same product. He then holds forth the specter of Congress simply nationalizing or socializing the whole business and “regulating” it on federal terms by making health insurance compulsory, with the ultimate “single payer” bureaucracy domiciled in Washington.
He opens his article with an interesting and revealing exchange he had with a South Carolina representative, whom he challenged to show him where in the Constitution the power was granted to the government to regulate the delivery of health care.
Well, that would be an easy task, notes Napolitano, referring to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and to the enumerated powers granted to Congress. Napolitano, however, was dealing with a thuggish mentality that will not be stopped by words that restrict his power to legislate any kind of “stuff” that comes to his mind. The former Superior Court judge argues for Congress to “regulate” the sale of health care insurance by prohibiting the states from controlling its sale across state lines (in the interests of free trade), perhaps on the premise that such an action would give Congress less of an excuse to nationalize health care. While this is a laudable aim, and certainly consistent with the intent – or, rather, a rational understanding – of the commerce clause, it overlooks the broader issue, which is the language itself.
The two most destructive phrases in the Constitution are destructive, not because they explicitly or intentionally contradict the principles underlying the document’s wording and otherwise explicit language, but because they are arguably ill- or undefined, and, to later generations of scholars and jurists, ambiguous and open to “interpretation.” Their ambiguity later permitted contradictory amendments to the Constitution together with legislation that all but rendered the Constitution a dead document, giving leave to presidents and Congress over the decades to advocate and enact a mammoth, costly, and liberty-destroying mountain of “stuff.”
These phrases are general welfare and regulate commerce.
Britannica cites “commerce clause” in the Constitution and the presumption and power in Article I, section 8:
And then makes this bald but true statement: “It is the legal foundation of much of the U.S. government’s regulatory authority.” Legal? Yes. Moral? No.
Concerning the “general welfare” clause, the Preamble of the Constitution reads:
The Cato Journal notes:
I stressed elastically because better minds were not so elastic in their positions on the clause. Thomas Jefferson, for example, expressed his doubts about the meaning of “general welfare”:
The clause, in short, notes the Cornell Law site, “is not an independent grant of power, but a qualification of the taxing power.” But, is it a “qualification of the taxing power” of Congress? Neither Jefferson nor any of his contemporaries go on to discuss the precise meaning of the phrase “general welfare.” That meaning has been a point of contention for over 200 years, but a succession of statists in Congress has taken advantage of its ambiguity to lay taxes and enact regulations ad libitum for any purpose the South Carolina representative and his political ancestors and contemporaries have pleased.
James Madison, writing about the objects embraced by the power, noted that:
Jefferson weighed in with:
The Constitution site remarks, referring the best dictionary available to the Founders:
Samuel Johnson's dictionary defined "to regulate" as "1. To adjust by rule or method ... 2. To direct." This definition is supported by Chief Justice Marshall's noted description of the power to regulate as the power "to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed." Chief Justice Melville Fuller later reiterated a similar formulation: "The power to regulate commerce is the power to prescribe the rule by which commerce shall be governed." This formulation suggests that the aim of "regulation" must be limited to the governance of commerce, although Supreme Court jurisprudence is not uniform on this topic.
Edward Banfield (1916 – 1999), a political scientist, argued that the attempt to define the outer limits of national power, as Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does, was likely a flawed enterprise, doomed to failure from the very beginning:
Banfield blamed human nature, surely what the drafters of the Constitution had in mind, for eventual federal encroachments on individual freedom. But, half the blame can be laid to the ambiguity of the term regulate, and also to the clause general welfare.
Again, the term regulate is employed ambiguously. Did Marshall, Madison, Jefferson, and others mean that it empowered the government to regulate commerce through taxation or by quotas or by some other mode of intervention? Or did they imply the establishment of objective law, by which free trade among individuals and corporations would be protected from intervention? This ambiguity has never been resolved.
What was the purpose of the commerce clause? The Father of the Constitution, Madison, wrote the following:
But Congress has arbitrarily assumed the “remedial power” not only to “reform” health care but to “regulate” virtually every other realm of human activity in the United States. The solution to that “remedial power” is to dislodge it from Congress.
Joseph Story (1779-1845), Supreme Court justice and protégé of John Marshall, expressed the conflict succinctly in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833):
Story might have added, but unfortunately did not include in his warning, the demolition of all constitutional boundaries between government and the individual. This is an instance of how an ambiguity in crucial language can become perilous and destructive, even in the most well-intentioned and cogent statements. This is also why I have trouble granting credibility to statements such as that found on the Campaign for Liberty site, which is written from a sense of certitude, but not from a certainty that could be validated by subjecting it to rational scrutiny and explication:
Even though I would like to agree with that statement, I could not say with any conviction that this is what the commerce clause, or even the general welfare clause, means or that this is what the Founders meant and intended – not without precise definitions of general welfare and regulate. Those two terms have been bonded together by statists into a poisonous, amphioxus sanction by collectivists and other enemies of freedom to the detriment of freedom.
What is needed is a Judge Narragansett to scour the Constitution and correct its debilitating and destructive amendments and to define its language with exactitude, so that a government instituted among men may better and absolutely “secure these rights” to the freedom of production and trade – including the trade in health care, health care insurance, and every other voluntary transaction among individuals. Then, perhaps, predatory creatures like Napolitano’s South Carolina congressman would not dare contemplate – indeed, he would be prohibited from – abridging our rights and reducing our liberties with “stuff.”
*From Atlas Shrugged, p. 1168. New York: Dutton 35th Anniversary Edition.
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Edward Cline is the author of a number of novels, and his essays, books reviews, and other nonfiction have appeared in a number of high-profile periodicals. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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