This semester I am taking a Political Futures class. Since it’s a futures course, one of the obvious themes of the class is innovation, and as a political science class, there’s a lot on government and governmental design too.
As I listened to my professor lecture, he said something that caught my attention. He argued that allowing the dead hand of the past to govern the present and the future (i.e. the U.S. Constitution) hampered political innovation, and that the libertarian argument seeks to revert to a near state of nature state for man, in which there is no sense of community and only individual concern.
Now, I will not go as far as to say that my professor is an out of touch left-winger as others may, but I did have something to counter his argument. First off: liberty IS progress; and the increasing rate of adoption of tedious big government legislation is regression. The founding fathers did not intend for our country to regress, nor did they intend for it to remain stagnant. The U.S. Constitution was designed such in a way that society would progress while protecting certain fundamental liberties that are necessary conditions for progress.
For example, imagine if freedoms of speech, religion, right to peacefully assemble and protest, from unwarranted search and seizure, etc. were not preserved throughout time. In the absence of these freedoms we would have a government that dictated to us what we could do and when we could do it. The other point I made was that libertarians are not anti-government, certainly we recognize the need for a government. Our aim, however, is small government, a government that serves the functions that governments are supposed to without unnecessarily infringing on the rights of the people it governs.
Finally, with regard to community, libertarians do not believe in the cynical states of nature proposed by Hobbes or Machiavelli. Rather we believe that humans are in fact fundamentally good and capable of self-governance. And that if left to their own individual whims will peacefully form communities, cooperate, and negotiate among themselves. Libertarians are branded as fanatical and anti-everything, but the fact of the matter is that the libertarian message is the most accommodating of diverse points of view because it asserts that you have the right to believe them.Published in