THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 610, March 13, 2011
"Much food for thought"
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
There used to be a constitutional monarchy, with a Magna Carta [Project Gutenberg ePUB, Project Gutenberg Kendle] that, among other things, guaranteed to yeomen the right to keep and bear arms. But today the British are told that they have no written constitution, the Magna Carta is kept hidden from view in one of the queen's castles, and the people are not only disarmed, but watched by creepy cameras everywhere. Now, that was AD 1215, Runnymede, and the original Magna Carta, the original "liberty by law," the first of the attempts to limit government power with a written agreement.
Can we all agree that it has failed, utterly, to restrict the power of Parliament? And, given that it has failed, and that after 800 years, nothing similar to it has succeeded, given that the constitution has utterly failed to restrict the power of the national government, as was evident in 1794 with the draft riots and the suppression of the whiskey rebellion, then, what, exactly, can we conclude about classical liberalism?
If it has not been successful, thus far, in 800 years of effort, should we try to fix it? Should we put even more of the best minds available to work on crafting better language? Given that the language of the constitution is clear, and clearly violated every day, why would changing the language do any good?
Isn't it about time to stop bothering with classical liberalism? Liberty by law has turned into tyranny with colour of law. The documentary limits to government have all been broken. Governments have plenary powers, and those in power disregard constitutions and other documents which are supposed to restrain them.
Anarchism proposes a bolder approach. You rule you. I rule me. No one has the right to own anyone. We work together according to such rules as we *consent* to abide by. You keep your weapons, I keep mine. We meet the distributed threats of crime, greed, and terrorism using distributed responses. We cooperate as we see fit.
So, then, what need have we of a large centralised hierarchical structure? Has hierarchy worked? Has monarchy worked? Has oligarchy worked? Not for the vast populations of places where they have been attempted. But anarchy has workedfor a thousand years in Ireland, for 300 years in Iceland.
Centralisation fails, time and again, to bring the benefits of division of labour to the wallets of those who labour. The economies of scale disappear into the maw of the bankers. Decentralisation works ever so much better. So why are you still on the grid?
Because you don't know how to generate electricity? Perhaps. Or, maybe, because you go to the home improvement store, the hardware store, the big box store, and you walk right past the solar cells, the solar powered lights, the diesel electric generators, the propane grills, and the dozens to hundreds of other energy solutions for home and garden and you do not think about them. You have heard vague rumours of Newcomen and Watt developing steam engines for power generation as long ago as 1715 and you wonder if you might be able to make use of that technology. Some day.
Maybe people should think about these ideas, study them, and put together packets of information about them. One way of doing so would be to form a university, or many universities, for such research, and study, and teaching.
For about a thousand years, universities have been centres of study. They have also been places of withdrawal. People who don't want to get involved in the hurly burly of city life often go to some rural campus and teach, or research, or both.
Maybe the reason people have not abandoned classical liberalism completely is that they have not thought about it very hard. Or they've been dissuaded from thinking by propaganda. Whatever the reason, the opportunity to think on things is here. The time to design a better world and begin building it is now.