More Rule of the Clan Over at Cato

Those of you who enjoyed our symposium on The Rule of the Clan should check the latest on Mark Weiner’s excellent book over at Cato. The event called The State, the Clan, and Individual Liberty. Mark’s initial essay is up. Essays by Arnold Kling, March 12; Daniel McCarthy, March 14; and John Fabian Witt, March 17 will follow. It promises to be another round of heady discussion about core questions on how we order our society.

Here Mark’s opening to get you started:

Many conservatives argue as a basic tenet of their political thought that individual liberty thrives when the state is limited and weak. “As government expands, liberty contracts,” explained President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address, calling the principle “as neat and predictable as a law of physics.” This view is especially pronounced among libertarians, and for libertarians of an anarchist perspective, the opposition between the individual and the state is fundamental and irreconcilable.

I believe this view is significantly mistaken. From the perspective of comparative law and legal history, it represents a dangerous illusion characteristic of citizens who already enjoy the benefits of modern liberal government. Although the state can be an instrument of tyranny, robust government capable of vindicating the public interest is vital for individual autonomy.

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3 Responses

  1. Brett Bellmore says:

    ” robust government capable of vindicating the public interest is vital for individual autonomy.”

    Of course, any libertarian would tell you, “Sure, and we passed “robust government capable of vindicating the public interest” a long while back, and are well into “tyranny of the transient plurality”. “Panopticon totalitarian state” is pulling into view.”

    The problem is, a government a TENTH the size of ours would qualify as “robust”.

  2. Shag from Brookline says:

    Considering this portion of Mark’s opening:

    ” ,,, and for libertarians of an anarchist perspective, the opposition between the individual and the state is fundamental and irreconcilable.”

    seems to be what attracted our troll Brett’s knee-jerk (jerk-knee?) reaction to Mark’s follow up:

    “I believe this view is significantly mistaken.”

    As I remind visitors to this and other blogs Brett trolls at from time to time, he is a self-proclaimed anarcho-libertarian and a Second Amendment absolutist. Can we expect Brett to actually take the time to read Mark’s essay in its entirety before shooting from the lip (First Amendment)?

  3. Joe says:

    The first comment speaks of “a long while back” — when was this?

    Is the 1960s, the beginning of which began with people being able to be kept from lunch counters if they are black, the time period? The 1990s when homosexuals could still be arrested for having sex with consenting adults? Today with a range of problems including environmental, crime, inequality etc.? What is the “public interest” is perhaps the better question. The “libertarian” who supports, e.g., a range of limits on voting rights will have different views on the question than others who is equally concerned with guns, voting and marriage equality.