Saturday, July 07, 2007

1776-Style Radical Transformation

America's Founding Fathers were "radicals."

They proposed a radical, revolutionary change, a change as "Copernican" as that described by Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, upon hearing of Locke's rejection of the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings:
Never before had I heard the authority of kings called in question. I had been taught to consider them nearly as essential to political order as the sun is to the order of our solar system.
The shift from "Divine Right of Kings" to "consent of the governed" was a spectacular leap, and many Americans (the "Tories") weren't ready for it.

The idea of "consent of the governed" was a political reflection of Presbyterianism. Calvinists gave us the idea of "consent of the governed" as we have argued here. The doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings held that nothing the king did could be criticized by the People even if they did not consent to the king's act. The "Consent of the Governed" was the near-opposite: Nothing the king did was legitimate unless the people consented. Instead of the people revolving around the king, the king revolved around the people.

People accuse me (an anarchist) of being a radical. But my idea (abolishing even government powers which are enumerated by the Constitution) is not that revolutionary. The transformation from "Divine Right of Kings" to the Constitution was not as great a transformation as a move from our present system of government back to the Constitution would be.

"Divine Right of Kings" sounds ominously totalitarian, but as Hans-Hermann Hoppe has shown, kings were more conservative or libertarian than we (having been brainwashed with the myth of "Democracy") might think. It's a simple fact that King George III did not exercise as great a range of political powers as our present leader, George the W.

The Constitution limits government power, but it did not alter the degree of government power all that much in practice. Taxes weren't lowered all that much. The number of government forms colonists had to sign didn't diminish all that much. Life didn't change all that much when the government was abolished and the Constitution ratified.

This is why the shift from George III to the Constitution (1761-1787) was a smaller shift than trying to go back to the Constitution from George W.

Privatizing the post office and national defense (the enumerated powers in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution) as well as all the other powers in Articles I-III would not be that drastic a change from a government that was purely Constitutional. Because the Constitution created a government of limited, enumerated powers, only a few powers were given to the federal government, and only a few powers would have to be eliminated in the eyes of an anarchist.

But today's government does not consist only of the powers enumerated in the Constitution. Today's federal government is virtually unlimited in the powers it has usurped from the states and from the People. Simply getting "back to the Constitution" is now a more radical revolutionary agenda than abolishing the Constitution would be once we get back there.

Resistance against pure libertarianism (anarcho-capitalism) is not resistance against "anarchy" -- abolishing the government of the Constitution -- it is resistance against abolishing unconstitutional government. If we could convince Americans to abolish unconstitutional government programs, it would be a piece of cake to convince them to become anarchists and abolish the entire federal government and the repeal the whole Constitution.

No comments: