A PDF version of A Penrose Stairway is available here.

A Penrose Stairway: Why the Free Market
and Limited Government Are Incompatible,

by Ronald N. Neff

Table of Contents for A Penrose Stairway

December 10, 2016


Chapter Two



LEGITIMACY IS THE MORAL BASIS for answering the question, “By what right does the government do what it does?”

Another way of putting it is this: The government is permitted to do things that ordinary people are not permitted to do. Everyone understands that he can give permission to another person to do what he himself may do. I may give a friend the keys to my home and invite him to make himself comfortable there while I am away. I may not give him permission to make himself comfortable in my neighbor’s house while she is away. That seems clear enough.

But if the government is permitted to do what others may not do, the curious will sooner or later ask, who gave it permission to do it? Where did this moral exception come from? If no one in a society possesses police powers by nature, how does the government come to have them?

A government lacking legitimacy is unable to answer that question. It may reply that it has the power to do what it does, and that its power is sufficient reason. In that case, there is nothing to differentiate its claims from those of any crime boss or gang leader. Or, for that matter, an abusive wife, husband, or parent.

I take it as self-evident that if it is moral for a person to pursue a certain course of action, he has a right to take that action. It is simple logic, then (modus tollens), that if he has not the right to take it, it is not moral for him to take it. By extension, if the government does not have the right to take certain actions, then it is not moral for it to take them. Without legitimacy, the government does not have the right to do what it does, and therefore, whatever it does is immoral. This, of course, is irrelevant if one is not interested in establishing the legitimacy of a government, i.e., if one’s position is more or less that the government is necessary, irrespective of rights. But in that case, one must establish that it is necessary, not merely assert it. I shall be treating of that assertion in Part II.

For the most part, libertarians who advocate the existence of a government (usually, a limited government of the sort the United States is asserted to be, but not always: libertarian monarchists are not unheard of, though they are rare), normally have in mind some kind of moral authority for their state, and more often than not, it is that authority that is named in the Declaration of Independence, “the consent of the governed.” The idea is that if everyone gives the government permission to perform certain actions, then it may perform them.

I contend that that idea — along with the associated concepts of taxation, voting, and representation — has been fully treated already by Lysander Spooner in his three No Treason essays, of which No. 6 (“The Constitution of No Authority”) is the best known. I shall therefore only touch on what he has to say, and add a few comments of my own, but before I get to that, I wish to make this categorical assertion:

No writer on the need for government — unless he is willing to base his claims on merely utilitarian or power claims — who does not discuss the grounds of legitimacy, or who in discussing them does not address the arguments of Spooner, can make a serious case for government. At the very least, he owes his readers an explanation for why he is not going to address them.

I propose to call persons who reject the claims for the need of a government anarchists, and those who advocate a free market in the absence of the existence of a government free-market anarchists. The term “anarchist” has suffered mightily at the hands of others — mostly leftists — who have made use of the term. Because the latter frequently engage in violent activities which they believe will advance their political views, activities including “peaceful” protests that somehow turn violent, bombings, assassinations, and simple physical assault, I exclude them from the category of “anarchist.” It is clear that though they may have grievances and objections to an existing system of rule, they do not have any objection to the existence of rule as such, and in most cases they propose to be the rulers themselves, or else to advance the political fortunes of someone else who intends to be the ruler.

Let there be no mistake about this: a person who uses violence to advance his political views is in fact exercising rule over some other person. If he shouts him down, he is attempting to keep that person’s views from being heard, which is to say, he is attempting to silence him. If he physically attacks another person who is carrying a sign calling for the end of abortion, or who is wearing a T-shirt announcing support for a hated candidate for public office, he is exercising rule over that person. He makes it clear that in his mind others do not have a right to present their views, and that they have the right to use their intellects, their resources, their physical powers only for purposes that please him. Of course, our attacker may have no thoughts of ever attaining power over a large number of people himself, but for the time that he is using force he is exercising rule over those he is forcing: they must serve his ends or perhaps those of someone else, but they may not serve their own ends.

The reader may have inferred that I have just used “violence” and “force” as synonyms, and so I do. While it is true that force can be exercised without actual and literal physical contact, it can be accomplished only by interacting with people on some basis other than agreement, reason, and courtesy, and may be rightly called a form of hooliganism. Furthermore, as I proceed, the reader will also notice that I differentiate between the initiation of force (coercion) and the use of defensive force. From a positivist point of view, they may appear to be the same, but in substance, they are entirely different.

You see two women tugging at the same purse. To outward appearances, they are both engaged in force, perhaps violence. But one of them is the rightful owner of the purse, and the other is not. The substance of the action, which is not accessible to perception, but only to the intellect, is that one of them is defending her property, and the other is attacking it. Property rights are fundamental in defining what does and does not count as the use of physical force or coercion. (This point is developed in R.A. Childs Jr., “Anarchism and Justice,” section IV, “Justice in Property Titles.” )

The claim — implicit or explicit — that one person’s effort, goals, or life are to serve the efforts, goals, or life of another is, when made without the agreement of the first person, a claim to rule. We may almost say that it is a claim to the legitimacy of human sacrifice, since implicit in the act is that the goals and purposes of the person ruled, i.e., a portion of his life, are to be sacrificed to serve those of the ruler. And a person who makes that claim or any like it is, whatever else he may be, not an anarchist.

It is often thought that an anarchist is someone who resents authority or even rejects authority. It is just the opposite. An anarchist is someone who rejects the claims of false authority. He has too high regard for legitimate authority to let random claims to it go unchallenged. Anyone can claim to have authority over another person or series of actions; the anarchist is the person who says, “Prove it to me.” He asks, “How can your assertion of authority be substantiated?” And answers such as, “I was authorized by the county, or by the police, or by the government” merely push the discussion back a few steps: what authority did the supposed authorizers have?

At the very least, an anarchist is skeptical of all assertions of authority, if he does not reject them or most of them completely. An anarchist can be a Catholic, accepting the authority of the Pope in matters of faith and morals, if he believes that that authority can be demonstrated. He can be an employee, his agreement to follow directions being a grant of authority to his employer. He can participate in sports or other competitive activities, recognizing the authority of the captain of the team, the coach, an umpire, a referee, or a tournament director to make decisions of a certain sort. But when people in authority make demands that exceed the authority they have by virtue of their position, their demands lack authority and represent mere assertions of power.

When a cop at a traffic stop gropes the driver or carries out an illegal search of the vehicle, he is not acting within his authority. He has no authority to do those things. He is merely acting in the capacity of a thug with a gun and a certain amount of “back-up” power at his beck. When a stewardess on an airliner instructs a passenger to turn off an electronic device, during certain portions of the flight, she is acting with authority; at other times she is merely a bully.

What the anarchist wants to know of any government’s claims is, What is the basis for your claims of authority? And it is possible that there are governments in the world that can support their claims. It is not likely, but I am not prepared at this time to argue that they do not exist.

The important point is that legitimacy confers a limited authority, and in the absence of legitimacy, claimed exercises of authority are in fact mere exercises of power deriving their force from the fear of violence or overwhelming physical strength. Obedience may follow from recognition of authority, or from fear. The first represents a kind of consent; the second betokens activity indistinguishable from that of a criminal.

We may distinguish between two kinds of anarchism. There is the anarchism that asserts that there are no governments in the world that are legitimate and that there have never been any or can be any. And there is the anarchism that in effect says, “Show me one.” An anarchist of the latter sort may be perfectly willing to regard as legitimate the rule of some past figure, but of no other, and I propose to refer to this kind of anarchism as “soft anarchism.” Soft anarchism does not presuppose the nature of the argument that will establish legitimacy, and it does not require that it prove consent of the governed or divine appointment or anything else. It just requires that the claims be proven. Not merely asserted, but proven. In the absence of such proof, the assertions of authority of any government official — from the president of the United States to the False Dmitry — are treated as mere piffle, to be obeyed only as a matter of prudence, not of moral obligation.

An example from ancient history may illustrate the point. I take this example precisely because it is of little relevance to modern-day political passions, and therefore may be considered with a measure of detachment. In the Bible, First Samuel 16: 1-13, there is the story of the anointing by the prophet Samuel of the shepherd boy David, son of Jesse, to be king of Israel, this at the command of God. The event takes place even though Israel still has a living king ruling over it, said to have been chosen by God through the same Samuel and over the latter’s objections.

Let us consider the position of an Israelite of the period who desires to know who is the legitimate monarch of Israel, and let us assume that he has heard the story of David and the anointing. Having heard it, he has several possible rejoinders open to him. He may say, “I agree that Samuel, a prophet from God, anointed David king, but since Saul is still alive, David may not take possession of the throne. He must wait until Saul is dead. Until then any anticipation of his reign is a usurpation.”

He may say, “I agree that Samuel, a prophet from God, anointed David king, and Saul should abdicate at once. If he does not, he is a usurper, and should be opposed insofar as it is possible.”

He may say, “Who witnessed this anointing? Are there any credible witnesses who are not members of David’s immediate family? How do we know that Samuel did any such thing?”

He may say, “How can we know that Samuel anointed David at the command of God, and not on his own, having some personal grievance against Saul?”

And if he is not particularly devout, or is one of the foreigners living in Israel at the time, he may say, “Who is this Samuel fellow anyhow? And what authority does he have to go around anointing kings?”

The first two positions will require further analysis of the matter, and I am at a loss to anticipate how the differences can be resolved. Each of the three last questions represents an empirical matter. And the skeptics who may ask them are entitled to their doubts and to their implicit demands for evidence. The onus of proof of the legitimacy of David’s ascension to the throne is on those who assert it.

The matter may be further illustrated somewhat comically by Dennis the peasant (and political philosopher) in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Upon being asked how he became king, King Arthur answers, “The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king.” Dennis, nobody’s fool, replies, “Listen. Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.... You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.... If I went ’round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away.” And when Arthur grabs him and orders him to shut up, he continues, “Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.”

Notice that Dennis does not question whether the Lady of the Lake did indeed give Arthur the sword, but whether that “aquatic ceremony” imparted legitimate authority to rule.

Dennis was not a soft anarchist (he belonged to “an autonomous anarcho-syndicalist commune”), but if there had been any government that convinced him that it was legitimate, it would later have to keep its legitimacy intact. Thus, supposing that the United States is a legitimate government and that its elections are a proper means for selecting the rulers, a soft anarchist may view the election of George W. Bush in 2000 as illegitimate, believing the claims that his opponent had won the election; or he may view the presidency of Barack Obama as illegitimate as being held by a person not qualified by birth to be president. Even supposing that the successors to illegitimate rulers are themselves legitimate, the acts of their predecessors are completely without authority, and must be re-enacted to enjoy the status of legitimacy. Otherwise they are what they seem to be: mere commands by a person who had no authority to issue them, sign them into law, or enforce them. Even if existing jurisprudence, embarrassed by the possibilities laden in the deeds of an illegitimate ruler, insists that those commands be treated as legitimate legislation, surely it is easy to see that in reason, it cannot be so; it is a mere finesse that avoids the complications of recognizing them as illegitimate and of no authority.

It is the aspiration of libertarian advocates of a limited government that there should exist a legitimate government that does not intrude into the free market. The limitations they would impose on their government are therefore many, and most nonlibertarians find them extreme beyond their expectations. They hope that the limitations they would impose will prevent the government from engaging in a large number of activities, e.g., taxation, that are normally considered the proper sphere of government, and that they should be recognized as efforts to be logically consistent with their non-aggression principle, to wit: that it is unjust to use force (coercion, aggression) against any person who has not committed a crime, crime being defined by the natural law of right and wrong and a malum in se, not merely a malum prohibitum. Indeed, there would be no legislation in the libertarian’s limited government that was merely creating a malum prohibitum. All legislation, it is hoped or imagined, will be legislation addressing only mala in se, and not all of them, but only such as involve one person’s (or group’s) initiating force (aggression or coercion) against another person. Shortly, we shall see that this hope is utterly vain, and cannot be realized.

Exactly what will count as initiated force and what will count as defense may differ from libertarian to libertarian, but the overarching principle is the same for them all: that initiated force may be prevented, and when not prevented punished in some way by the government. Whether the punishment will take the form of compensation to the victim or of prison time for the offender, may also differ from libertarian to libertarian, and I will not be treating of those differences here.

The Foundation

It is not enough merely to describe an ideal government and to postulate its legitimacy. It is not even enough to identify the source of its legitimacy. For the state does not exist in nature; it must be created.

We understand that it is easy enough to create a state by the use of simple coercion or conquest. History is replete with examples. But to show how any state could have come into existence legitimately is a more difficult proposition; and to show that any one has, more difficult still.

One may say, with Hilaire Belloc, “James the Second was the last legitimate monarch of England.” But that claim suggests the question, does it not, “Who was the first legitimate monarch? And how did he get that way?”

Ludwig von Mises patiently explains in Socialism that no state can be created legally, for the state is itself the author of legislation. That leaves us with the areas of morality and natural law.

The matter is more difficult than it may first appear. It is not simply a matter of saying that if a government has unanimous consent, then it is legitimate. But let us exercise our imaginations a little: how will that unanimous consent be created?

Let us suppose a small group on a desert island and, sensing the need for some kind of government, someone says, “Let’s vote on it.” Before the vote can be held and the votes counted, the entire populace must answer, “Okay.” In other words, unanimous consent must even be given to the prospect of voting on something.

Let us suppose a much larger population who send men to a convention to design a government and offer it for unanimous consent to the populace. It would be completely reasonable for someone to object, “What men? Why am I not one of them? Who gave them the right to design the government?”

Now, there is no real problem here if the answer is, “Well, no one actually. We just think it would be a good idea. When we have completed our design, let’s see whether it receives unanimous consent.” And in that case, there is no problem. There is also no problem if a different group of men say, “Good idea. While you work on your proposal, we will work on ours.”

Can anyone imagine that in such circumstances, either proposal will get unanimous consent? But on what basis will the second group be prohibited from doing their work?

In other words, if anyone will simply attempt to imagine creating a legitimate government, I think it will be very quickly seen that the job simply cannot be done.

Then comes the question of the newly created legitimate government’s being legitimate ten minutes from its creation. And ten minutes after that. In other words, legitimacy — if it is based on consent of the governed — is not a thing that, once created, simply continues on its own, for the reason that consent exists in the minds of the governed, and the governed can change their minds.

Moreover, each new person who enters the society supposedly governed by consent of the governed must give his consent, and keep on giving it. This includes those who enter it by means of birth. How one will elicit the consent of a two-year-old I cannot say. What I can say is that to set an age at which time consent is to be sought, is to allow that some will be governed without their consent for some period of time. And no matter what the age is that is set, it will be an arbitrary number, set merely for the convenience of the rest of the population, and without regard to the natural rights of the person whose consent is not sought before that age.

Thus, I claim that if one will attempt to imagine the creation of a legitimate government, he will see that the difficulties are so severe that they cannot be overcome. And even if they were overcome, the fragility of that legitimacy would be so great, that it could hardly be expected to survive past breakfast the day after it had been established.

Legitimacy and a Unique Crime

There is a question that the concept of legitimacy presents for the night-watchman limited government that is quite different from the matters just discussed.

In the night-watchman limited government not interfering with the free market, we are told, all crimes will be crimes against person or property. There will be no “victimless” crimes. The concept of “victim” may seem fairly simple at first, but like the lifelike statues of Daedalus, which were capable of movement, it becomes a little difficult to actually pin it down.

For there are activities which are considered by the bulk of mankind to be crimes, but which are not crimes against persons or property; they are specifically, and only, crimes against the state. Foremost among them is treason.

Will a night-watchman limited government, determined not to interfere into the market, define such a crime? Let us be clear, here. In order to commit treason — no matter how it is defined — one must first have certain thoughts, presumably have certain associates, and then perform certain acts. In this limited government, in which of them will the crime of treason subsist? Surely it cannot be in the thoughts or associations of the resident, for the night-watchman limited government will not, it must be supposed, interfere with one’s thoughts. Similarly, one’s freedom of association will not be infringed in any way.

But what about the actions? In any act of treason, again, no matter how it is defined, there will be an action against nothing that can be regarded as property. The government, not being a market entity, cannot own property in the sense that an ordinary person can own it. It also cannot own it in the sense that a market entity, say a corporation, can own it, for a corporation is an entity created, supported, indeed defined by legislation and contracts. And there can be no legislation creating the government, for it is, by definition, the creator of legislation. And there can be no contract creating the government, even if it is created by original unanimous consent. Unanimous consent, to be of any value to the legitimacy of the government, must be reaffirmed at virtually every other second of the day, which — particularly in a country of more than eleven people — would surely be impossible. Such a government would require that its residents be constantly checking their smart phones so frequently (more frequently even than nerds, geeks, and millennials check their Facebook pages) that all market activity would grind almost to a standstill.

So where is the victim in the crime of treason? If it cannot be the government itself, since it is neither an actual nor a legal person, can it be “everybody”? How could it ever be proved in a court that anyone had ever committed such a crime? At the very least, one would have to know who “everybody” was when the crime was committed, and one would have to be able to prove that each and every one of them had been harmed by the supposed act. Could it be “nearly everybody”? How “nearly”? We have suddenly found ourselves in the territory of the arbitrary definition, when we had hoped to stay in the territory of the objective and of natural law.

If treason presents such problems, consider the still more slippery “sedition” — “overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority.” Alas, so many terms to unpack. Let us begin with “conduct, such as speech and organization.” Surely no speech or organization will be criminalized by the night-watchman limited government. Why, that would amount to McCarthyism! That would amount to the persecution of freedom-loving communists, such as the pro-Soviet Dalton Trumbo. We surely cannot have that.

How about “subversion”? or “incitement of discontent”? Again, we are looking at acts that surely involve no attack on the person or property of anyone. How about “resistance”? If it is an action distinct from committing a crime against person or property, it is hard to see how the night-watchman limited government can defend itself against it.

Of course, I did jump over that word “insurrection.” In what shall it consist? If a noisy, even armed, crowd should attack a government building, are they attacking someone’s property? If they empty it of all occupants and set it ablaze, have they committed arson? And against whom? Timothy McVeigh was surely guilty of murder; was he — by the standards of a night-watchman limited government — guilty of any other crime?

If the crowd seize a government official, rough him up a bit, and demand that he resign his position, will they be guilty of any crime other than possible assault? Let us go further: “rebellion.” Will the night-watchman limited government criminalize insurrection or rebellion? On what basis? Oh, yes, in the interest of peace, most of us will wish not to have to live in times where insurrection or rebellion is widespread. But just as surely, they are expressions of the discontent of certain people against the government and its policies.

Part of the problem this presents to the night-watchman government is that its exponents are so confident of its essential goodness and efficacy that it is hard for them to imagine anyone’s taking exception to any of its actions or policies. And surely it would never take so many actions or have so many policies repugnant to an important number of its residents that they would find themselves unable to bear them or to oppose them except by less-drastic, peaceful means. Surely, they should never elicit among its residents anything more disturbing of the peace than simple “civil disobedience.”

But why must anyone be limited to civil disobedience? For that matter, why must it be a first, or even early, resort? To be sure, I, as much as any man, prefer that people express their discontent with their rulers in a manner more agreeable to my own comfortable life. But it is not for me to tell others how to express their discontent, so long as they do not attack the persons or property of anyone who has committed no crime against them. I will tell them what I think is prudent; perhaps I can even argue that their intended actions would be immoral. But we are not talking about morality here; we are talking about legality, and the powers of a government that purports to exist solely to protect its clients against crime and foreign invasion.

Having seen how slippery is the concept of “insurrection,” we can see how much more so is “espionage.” At the very least, a government that can prosecute such a crime must have secrets, secrets from its enemies and from its own principals. That is, it must have secrets from the very population whom, it claims, it is serving and represents. No doubt, transparency is a difficult policy for any military entity, no matter how justly it attempts to act as a defender of rights. For the military of a government that claims legitimacy on the basis of “the consent of the governed,” I submit, it is more than a difficulty: opacity becomes an epistemological absurdity. Lysander Spooner has already shown the difficulties in the notion that we can be represented by principals who are not answerable to us and whom they cannot identify. Still worse, surely, is the notion that in the statement “we govern ourselves” — to borrow from a witticism of Murray Rothbard — it matters a great deal whether one is the “we” or the “ourselves,” for the “we” will be keeping secrets from the “ourselves.” The left hand’s not knowing what the right hand is doing has never been so artful an achievement.

Unless ... unless ... the night-watchman limited government is prepared to make some compromises with its founding principles. And at that moment, surely, the libertarian must be willing to be simply embarrassed and to press on, or else he must be willing to recognize the logical impossibility of his enterprise.

But what if espionage can be defined by reference to employment contracts with those who work within the state? No doubt, such contracts are imaginable. But are they enforceable? Who would enforce them? In the system of limited-statehood, there is no impartial third party to arbitrate disputes between citizens and the government, for the courts are arms of the government. To be sure, courts sometimes rule against the government that employs them; not all judges rule in the interest of the government of which they are a part. Still, any defendant can be forgiven for being a little bit uneasy at the thought that his judge and his accuser work together for the same entity. There is, after all, no guarantee, even in a night-watchman limited government, that there will not evolve a jurisprudence that determines that a government must have some legitimate interests that override the rights a defendant may be claiming for himself.

The next thing to be seen is that defining espionage in terms of violation of contract provides no basis whatever for prosecuting espionage on the part of non-employees. A private citizen who manages to steal some secrets (by hacking his way into a computer, perhaps, or by breaking into a secure location by simple accident and luck, as someone known to your humble servant once did) can hardly be accused of violating the terms of a contract. And the foreign agent who receives the secrets from an employee cannot be held guilty of contract violation. Just what did he do that may be called a crime? He stole no property; he did not even receive stolen property: the information he has obtained still resides exactly where it was found. He has injured no person.

Is the sale of the information to a foreign government to be the essence of the espionage? Well, suppose it was never sold, but only given away. In that case, there would be no espionage. And since when does the night-watchman limited government concern itself with sales and purchases, anyway?

And that reminds us that there are sales that involve no government secrets. There are privately developed and owned technology, privately owned weaponry, and privately developed unweaponized products. What private sales, what market transactions, shall be criminalized when the buyer is a foreign government?

In volume 4 of Conceived in Liberty (Murray Rothbard’s account of the American Revolution and the aftermath), we are told that Benjamin Franklin had demonstrated in 1774 that even trade with an enemy with whom a country is at war benefits both countries. It is easy for writers to say such things; more difficult to imagine any government officials heeding them; still more difficult to imagine the people who are at war not becoming outraged at those who profit from trade with the enemy.

And mention of that amorphous body, “the people,” leads us to ask a final question: By what claim of justice can the night-watchman limited government criminalize an attempt to overthrow it? I would be willing to go so far as to make that “overthrow it by any means,” but I assume that most readers would simply regard that as a ridiculous question. Surely any government that is not permitted to defend itself when attacked violently by its own residents or citizens would not be regarded as a real government by anyone. Yet it is easy to forget that the government was supposed to have been created to defend rights; it has no natural rights of its own. It has only those rights that its founders — all of them, not merely a majority — granted it, and surely any part of them are free to withdraw those rights at any time. And what if they did not grant it the right of self-defense? In any case, it is surely clear that in the case of an attempt to overthrow it, a given government no longer enjoys the consent of the governed.

Let us not become embroiled in all that. Let us instead ask whether a night-watchman limited government can defend itself from being overthrown by peaceful means. This is quite another matter, is it not? If a large portion of the populace become dissatisfied with freedom as defined by the limited government, if they become enamored of some other idea of how a government should run, again, by definition, the government no longer has the consent of the governed.

And beyond that, if the populace, by peaceful, lawful means, overthrow this government by voting for people who wish to redesign the government along quite different lines, even lines that will surely violate the rights of some, how can the night-watchman limited government defend itself? Alas, it cannot. For the night-watchman limited government, by definition, was intended and designed to defend the rights of the people who constitute it from criminals and foreign attackers, not to defend itself from its own people. Not to coerce their consent.

In the manifest absence of consent, surely it is necessary for the night-watchman limited government, true to its own principles, true to the principles it was created to defend, true to the principles of those who created it, to dissolve itself, to return, as they say, “to a state of nature” and start over.

But is there, I ask you, even a single exponent of the limited government who has ever given such assurance for his imagined state? Has it ever been a component of a single Constitution for a New Country? Of course there has not been. Everyone, I think, realizes that if a government must dissolve itself upon losing the consent of (even one of) the governed, no government could ever exist as a legitimate entity for more than twenty seconds.

Which means, I submit, that no one really believes that the government he advocates would ever derive its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. The idea is simply a chimera.

With all that as groundwork, let us now turn to Jacob Hornberger’s recent attempt to establish the desirability of a night-watchman limited government over that of a stateless free-market society.

December 10, 2016


Chapter Three:
Free-market Defense, Crime, and Procedural Guarantees


© 2016 Ronald N. Neff. All rights reserved.
Published in 2016 at The Last Ditch by Croatoan Books, a division of WTM Enterprises.

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