The Conceit of Big-L Libertarians


It is often in writing and otherwise that American Libertarians bring forth for their arguments one certain piece of paper called “The Constitution.” Written by a group of wise men some 2 centuries ago, it is supposed to be the one and ultimate standard by which to judge governance. So self-sufficient are these statements that they do not need further proof.

The document of the US constitution (“as the Founding Fathers meant it”) has morphed into an interesting rendition of an equally famous document written nearly 2 millenia ago. Yes, the Constitution bears the same significance, and equally the same mystical air as the Holy Bible. The Founders are thus holy patron saints, their words to be taken as true Gospel and their ideas to be followed without question.

Does the World perhaps limit itself to the borders of the United States? What sort of significance can this paper have for non-Americans? Are we to deduce the USA is an equivalent to the Biblical “chosen people”? Why the conceit, dear Libertarians? Can freedom only stand on one shore of the Atlantic?

In the words of the famous monkey in chief, “the Constitution is just a piece of paper,” it has no other importance but historical. The simple fact that it was signed by certain people, at a certain time, is not in any way binding on anyone else. It’s not a contract. So why do Libertarians hold their certain religious fervor towards it? Could it be that in the absence of their determination, they themselves would doubt it? Can no better argument for freedom be made than – “it’s in the Constitution, therefore it’s true”?

I’m not saying the principles are false, but it is necessary to take the statements for what they are worth, not give them value by the simple virtue of belonging to the Constitution.

Lysander Spooner exposes this error specifically:

If the instrument meant to say that any of “the people of the United States” would be bound by it, who did not consent, it was a usurpation and a lie. […]

Such an agreement clearly could have no validity, except as between those who actually consented to it. If a portion only of “the people of the town of A—–,” should assent to this contract, and should then proceed to compel contributions of money or service from those who had not consented, they would be mere robbers; and would deserve to be treated as such.

Finally, words from one Sheldon Richman:

[…]a free society depends ultimately on people having a proper sense of just conduct. This means more than the words they recite or put on paper. Most crucial is how they act and expect others to act. For this reason it is futile to put undue emphasis on written constitutions as the key to liberty. The real constitution is within — each of us. If the freedom philosophy is not inscribed in the actions of people, no constitution will help.

And to check that I do not give value to the above, by virtue of being said by these people, I invite you to challenge them.

Have a nice time.


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