Whenever I hear (some) "limited government" conservatives and (minarchist) libertarians utter phrases like "We must keep the U.S. federal government to its Constitutional size" and "Only Congress has the legal and just power to [do this] or [do that]" or "These new laws and regulations are an affront to and assault on free market capitalism" or "President [Insert name here] has signed into law a bill that clearly violates the Constitution," I feel a sudden chill rushing down my spine. And it's not a good feeling. None indeed whatsoever.
The problem with this school of thought is that the individual who stands to defend this rhetoric bar none injects an enormous amount of political and ideological faith in a few areas under a blind guise of praxeological arguments. Not surprisingly, these aforementioned arguments are of the following:
- That the United States of America as a quasi-governmental corporation must be governed by a blanket set of rules called a constitution and that these rules see the State as a pet to be tamed and put on a leash;
- That, unless the Constitution "authorizes" the State to partake in legal functions (such as granting Congress the power to "coin Money" and to "declare War" against a foreign power) as "America's Founders had originally intended and envisioned them," the President, the Senate, and the Congress "has no constitutional authority" to engage in these said functions if said rules expressly forbid them to do so;
- That the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which states in part, "The powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," is the law of the land and that Constitution "is only granted enumerated powers at the State level that the Constitution does not clearly spell out and define." Oh, and don't forget that they also say that Washington, D.C. "has no right to tell people and their States what they can and cannot do" because these issues (like taxes, economic regulations, immigration) pertain to "state sovereignty" and "states' rights."
(Some of these so-called limited statist conservatives reach an impasse with their ideological and political paradigms because they cannot reconcile their love affair for the Constitution and their alleged pro-liberty ideologies with their corporate socialist and privileged philosophies, given that they express deference to the State while appearing to favor laissez-faire "free market" capitalism);
- That the U.S. Supreme Court was never meant to be an instrument of judicial activism (that is, the Court having legislative power from the bench on the whims of the judges on account of their personal and political views and interests) but rather a provider of a strict, restrictive interpretative federal power on interstate commerce and limited judicial power (as mandated by the 11th Amendment);
- That the State was meant to be "limited" in nature, and that it must be confined to the chains of the Constitution, as "America's Founders intended it to be";
- That the State is meant to be in place to have "federal powers few and defined," and that some functions of society (such as roads, the police, prisons, and the courts) must be socialized and not left in the hands of a free market;
- And so on and so on;
What's equally troublesome is their easily-debunkable claim that free markets exist now (despite regulations by the State) and their corporatist/privileged safety net protection rackets are protected and carried out by state decree. Even Objectivists fall under this perturbing rubric all too well.
If those phrases are meant to be taken seriously, then I must ask those who employ them in political and ideological discourses this very paramount question: Why? Why must we care about "limited government" when the State is not some kind of a canine that can be put on a leash and trained to behave at his owner's command? Is it worth spewing those words, knowing how impossible it is to have a limited "minimized state" government because of its temptation to grow? This political opiate has taken on a life of its own. Even the Founders of whom some conservatives and minarchist libertarians have grown so fond had individually different ideas of what the role of government should be in civil society on its own merits. It's no secret that the "Founding Fathers" of the United States couldn't bring themselves to see eye-to-eye on how "small" the State should be. (The Articles of Confederation merely accomplished this [despite some of the problems that it had], but that document was thrown aside in favor of the current constitution.)
If we are an astute judge of constitutional history, then it is obvious that the great constitutional experiment that the Founders established has not created a government "limited" within power and scope but a plutocratic-autocratic hybrid apparatus. In other words, the State has become both an instrument of unlimited power and a collusive partner with Big Business and Fortune 100 and 500 corporations that enjoy privileged advantages at the expense of the underclasses. This is where the "free market capitalism" angle comes in: a politico-economic system that is state capitalistic in nature but disguised as a pseudo "free market capitalistic" system exploiting the underclass and protecting privileged elitism by according the ruling class with tangible perks that are not available to the poor a.k.a. the ruled.
And it doesn't help that a minor subset of libertarians, whether they fall under the minarchistic or, to a lesser degree, the anarchistic categories, have embraced this "vulgar libertarian" mindset, while forgetting that they condemn corporatism if it does not benefit them but, once it starts to work for them, they immediately embrace it. And some of their conservative allies who embrace the constitutional fetishism that the State is their enemy and that Wall Street and corporate America are enemies of true liberalism, a free market, and a peaceful civil society.
Conservatives (even the Ron Paul ones) have done the same, albeit a much lesser degree than the others. If nothing, they are their own worst enemies, and yet they don't recognize that.
The conservative and libertarian love affair with maximum "limited" statism, corporatism, and constitutional fetishism is enough for me to deliberately question the absolute integrity of these groups.