There are many things appealing about Libertarianism. The whole, “Don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you.” philosophy for starters. The concept of a smaller, less obtrusive government for another. However, as appealing as it may be the fact is that it is flawed for larger countries like the United States. When our country was smaller, post revolution the concepts of individualism and self reliance were a mainstay of American life. At the same time, American society was seperated by distance and economic realities as well as regional identities. All of which would eventually come to a head in the American Civil War, although some consider it a second revolution.
Individualism when considered separately, is not a negative concept. Being responsible to one self is an important aspect of self growth but the very name excludes outside factors. Same with Self Reliance. On an individual level self reliance is a admirable trait. Yet as a society increases in number and economic potency those factors do not translate onto a national stage in the form of a fully integrated and functional society. Especially in an economic sense when competition is a global system and not a local situation.
Individualism and Self Reliance, while hallmarks of libertarianism, it is by no means the entire scope of libertarianism. Some range from free market promotion and property right authority based in natural rights to anarchist concepts of little to no state interference. Despite any specific school that libertarianism adherents cling to, the overall concept of little or limited state authority is at the heart of their resistance to a federalist based governing system. The background of this belief is as varied as the schools of thought on libertarianism. In this specific instance, the focus will be on the overall concept of libertarianism as espoused by many in the United States.
In the United States the classical liberal concept of socially liberal and economically conservative has morphed into modern American Libertarianism. This includes a direction on policies that limit federal role in the governing of the country as well as policies that promote free market ideals. However, the social liberal stance is limited by preventing the government from affecting aspects such as welfare, medical care and other social programs. In fact, the concept real or imagined of wealth distribution is almost revolt making to the average libertarian.
Libertarianism, as a form of government is non static. Meaning that as time progresses in a libertarian society as the number of individuals climb and the wealth increases the gap that occurs between the top percentile and the lowest percentile widens, creating fissures in the libertarian philosophy that can only be corrected by using a form of governmental authority. This will increase further as the numbers also increase until the system of libertarianism can no longer sustain itself and must revert to another form of government. Of course, it is equally possible that as a libertarian society increases the numbers the society itself could devolve into a number of communal situations. This is not just speculative fiction. There are sociological models that can predict at which point the population ratio to percentage of gross national product becomes untenable for a libertarian society that is based on minimal state control.
That does not mean that libertarianism is a bad concept only that it is inefficient and impractical on a large scale. Some current libertarians attempt to work their philosophy into the concept of the current United States. They tout the idea that states could become the framework of local government while the Federal government is limited to defense and small economic regulations. They further make the claim that this is born out of the United States Constitution. However, nothing can be further from the truth. The United States Constitution in its very form a description of Federalism. The concept of Federal control with limited state control. Many will bring up the 10th Amendment. However, as it has been mention in this blog before the 10th Amendment sets up a co-sovereignty not a dual sovereignty. Meaning it reaffirms the hierarchy of the law as laid out in the Supremacy Clause. This has been attested to by the Supreme Court.
Naturally, no libertarian would agree with what is mentioned here. It is after all more of a moral philosophy than a way of government. However, it is that philosophy that is helping to drive much of the current division in this country. Granted, it does not rest solely on the shoulders of the libertarian as it is only a small part of the whole partisan situation. Still, it would should be recognized by the libertarians that for a country our size, their concept of government just won’t work.