Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz warns libertarians against the imagined limited government utopias of America’s early days that were actually far less libertarian than today in many important ways:
This is vitally important information to keep in mind. Sure, there was no Federal Reserve, income tax, or drug war in 1800, but the government still did plenty of unspeakably awful things back then. Of course, some people go too far in the other direction and claim that we have only gotten freer over the years. Although there might be a general trend towards liberty in the last four centuries or so, that trend has never been constant, and it is in no way a necessary fact about the world.
I truly believe that we can make it to a society of maximum individual freedom, but we won’t get there by looking for it somewhere in the past. Certainly we can and should make use of the past to show the tragedies of state control and the successes of civil society and the market, but to the best of our knowledge, there has not yet been a completely free human society. A few have come close, and many more recently have allowed people to be freer than the vast majority of humanity that has ever lived, but freedom is an idea that still has yet to be tried in its totality.
Cross-posted at Rough Ol’ Boy.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Comments: 3 Comments