Libertarian Centralists?

Sunday, January 21, 2007
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One thing I find more useless than almost anything else is the incessant back-and-forth homilies and pseudo-intellectual dissertations that litter the Internet (libertarian email lists and some forums are perfect examples therein). Business Communications Profs, in Bus Com 101, teach you to eliminate unnecessary words. Get to the point. How easy it is.

The discourse on federalism, between Stephan Kinsella and Timothy Sandefur, has gone on a long time. Recently, there was another round of tit-for-tats between the two: Stephan Kinsella here, then Sandefur here, and finally, Kinsella again here. This issue is of tremendous importance to libertarians. In fact, it can be analyzed and discussed into perpetuity as far as Constitutional interpretations, the legitimacy of states’ rights, the importance of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolves, etc.

Kinsella begins his case by pointing out the rejection of federalism by the libertarian centralizers………However, all things aside, I’ll keep it simple stupid: I deny that anyone who is a centralizer, as opposed to being a decentralist, is a “libertarian.” And furthermore, anyone who goes a step further and denies federalism and/or secession necessarily denies the Non-Aggression Principle by virtue of the fact that centralization/national union can only be brought about by the sheer force of the state. Such individuals oppose the essential principles of libertarianism. Sandefur (as well as the other anti-decentralization “libertarians”) is no libertarian – not by any means. If we start from that premise, we argue in a whole ‘nother context because then we argue “who is right and wrong,” and not “what is libertarian.” Thus the argument about the Constitution and secession goes on. But who is libertarian and who is not is easily solved. So why waste your time?

For one of the great short pieces on this issue, see Tom DiLorenzo’s “Constitutional Futility.” For works on capturing the libertarian spirit, also see Reclaiming the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their Legacy, by William Watkins; John Taylor’s An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States; John Remington Graham’s A Constitutional History of Secession; and The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828, by Saul Cornell.

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