The Libertarian Philosophy Is a Utopian Fantasy

Libertarianism Is as utopian as socialism, if less deadly.

By + More

Over at FrumForum, John Vecchione catches a small but significant mistake in Christopher Beam’s essay on libertarianism in New York magazine:

Beam writes that the libertarians have not been so strong since the early days of the Republic. He states "The Constitution was a libertarian document that limited the role of the state to society’s most basic needs, like a legislature to pass laws, a court system to interpret them, and a military to protect them." This is not true. It limited the federal government to certain roles but not "the state." He does note that John Adams and Alexander Hamilton were not libertarians but John Marshall is ignored, and even the other Virginians do not meet the test.

Exactly right.

How many times have you encountered lazy rhetoric along the lines of “The Constitution was enacted to limit the role of the federal government”? While the Framers did design a federal government with limited, enumerated powers, the primary purpose of the document was to establish an effective federal government in the first place. And from the word go, the country's chief executives, including even the agrarian republican Jefferson, have interpreted those powers as broadly as was necessary to promote American industry and international influence.

[ See 2010: The Year in Cartoons.]

Vecchione notes further that “the Articles of Confederation is the true libertarian founding document and this explains the failure of libertarianism.”

Right again.

To the extent that it’s ever been tried, libertarianism is as utopian and unrealizable a scheme as socialism. But I will say this on its behalf: It would result in far fewer dead bodies.