The Reluctant Anarchist

A man is the product of his knowledge, or lack thereof.

Most Americans are ignorant – not stupid or mentally challenged – just ignorant. We lack knowledge. But many of us have begun to awaken, slowly. We have seen one deception after another fall. We have become aware, reluctantly, that institutions that we have been taught to love and revere and which we have trusted have actually deceived us, misled us, despoiled us.

The late Joe Sobran was a columnist with whom I shared a kindred spirit. I can’t recall ever reading anything he wrote with which I disagreed. This morning I read a column of his that I had somehow previously missed – The Reluctant Anarchist. Again, I found myself in agreement with his reasoning. He questioned the ability of the Constitution to restrain the state. Alas, he appears to have been proven correct.

Sobran writes, “… no constitution could restrain the state. Once its monopoly of force was granted legitimacy, constitutional limits became mere fictions it could disregard; nobody could have the legal standing to enforce those limits. The state itself would decide, by force, what the constitution “meant,” steadily ruling in its own favor and increasing its own power. This was true a priori, and American history bore it out.

What if the Federal Government grossly violated the Constitution? Could states withdraw from the Union? Lincoln said no. The Union was “indissoluble” unless all the states agreed to dissolve it. As a practical matter, the Civil War settled that. The United States, plural, were really a single enormous state, as witness the new habit of speaking of “it” rather than “them.”

So the people are bound to obey the government even when the rulers betray their oath to uphold the Constitution. The door to escape is barred. Lincoln in effect claimed that it is not our rights but the state that is “unalienable.” And he made it stick by force of arms. No transgression of the Constitution can impair the Union’s inherited legitimacy. Once established on specific and limited terms, the U.S. Government is forever, even if it refuses to abide by those terms.

For me this is anything but a happy conclusion. I miss the serenity of believing I lived under a good government, wisely designed and benevolent in its operation. But, as St. Paul says, there comes a time to put away childish things.”

Read Sobran’s entire Reluctant Anarchist

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9 years ago

The ink wasn’t dry on the page before federalists were working to erode the limits on government, but anarchism is a temporary state. Rothbard was a lefty who believed that workers should own the businesses and college students should own universities, in other words “economic justice”.

I have been looking into this whole “libertarian” thing and it breaks down when you try to implement it. Its just a philosophy, maybe an ideal to aspire to as you create a working system, but its not “real”.

9 years ago

He is only correct if we so allow it to be. The laws of nature cannot be destroyed merely because a government deems it so. They exist none the less along with all the rights those laws bestow. Ours for the taking or retaking as the case might be.


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