Tuesday, August 09, 2005

State Violence and Limited Government

That is the title of yet another fine piece by Anthony Gregory published by LRC.

Here's how it begins:
The American right has long dedicated itself to the promotion of limited government – limited to its key functions of cracking skulls, caging sinners and leveling cities. Helpful to this program of state violence is the fact that most people, left, right, center and libertarian, believe that protecting people’s rights to life, liberty and property against foreign and domestic threats is the one unquestionable purpose of government. People tend to consider organized force a legitimate means to defend the innocent against violent criminals, terrorists, and the like.

Here's how it ends:
It is fine for libertarians to debate the status of the state as either a necessary or an intolerable evil. Merely believing that a state should be confined to protecting life, liberty and property, however, is not enough to be a libertarian. These laudable ends boasted of the state cannot cancel out the evils of the means used. Indeed, this is the principal argument against the welfare statism of the left. Charity and healthcare are not ideas that libertarians oppose. Nor do we object to clean air or water, an educated populace or higher wages for workers. What we reject, for both practical and ethical reasons, is the use of aggressive force against innocents as a means of achieving these ends. In welfare statism, it is not the giving side, but the taking side, with which we have the most problem. Conservatives also advocate the coercive instrument of taxation, but tend to want the money used to fund schemes violent and objectionable in themselves – to lock up drug users and other outcasts, to clobber and abuse prisoners, to bomb cities. The model rightist state might be smaller than the leftist ideal, but it is no less coercive. It is violent in its funding and even more so in its ends. Libertarians must reject the "limited" government of the right as readily as the nanny state of the left. The conservative attachment to state violence is no small issue.


To read all the fine points made in between, click here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anthony Gregory said...

Hey, thanks for the plug!!

3:06 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

And thank you for writing such fine columns!

9:49 PM  

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