Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Lysander Spooner!

Lysander SpoonerI would like to take the opportunity on this, the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Lysander Spooner, to recommend reading one of the most important articles I've ever read on political philosophy: "The Constitution of No Authority," where he makes the stunning conclusion that the Constitution is not binding to us in the least:

The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. [This essay was written in 1869.] And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts. Furthermore, we know, historically, that only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now. Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. And the constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. It is not only plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. That is to say, the instrument does not purport to be an agreement between any body but "the people" THEN existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind anybody but themselves.

Read the rest, and while you're at it, also check out Spooner's terrific work "Vices are Not Crimes." (these two articles had a tremendous influence in my journey to radical libertarianism)

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