No, The American Founders Were Not Libertarians

A closer look at the Founders’ thought about government shows their political philosophy that culminated in the Constitution was anything but libertarian.

Libertarians are still trying to claim the American Founding as theirs. One occasionally hears the argument that the principles of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are libertarian. One of the most recent instances of this claim resides in Nikolai Wenzel’s first-rate defense of libertarianism in “Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives?” (Stanford: 2017). Yet a closer look at the Founders’ thought about government makes clear that it was anything but libertarian.

Wenzel notes there are different types of libertarianism. He clarifies that “unless I specify otherwise, I will use the term libertarian to mean minarchy.” Minarchist libertarianism holds that government exists only to protect individuals’ rights. “A libertarian government is forbidden from doing almost everything,” Wenzel states. “In fact, a libertarian government is empowered to do only one thing: defend individual rights.”

Wenzel’s argument for a libertarian Founding rests largely on the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Indeed, his claims do seem superficially persuasive….

Source: No, The American Founders Were Not Libertarians

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: