Why not liberty and order?
French parliamentarian Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, 1809-1865: “Liberty is the Mother, not the Daughter, of Order.”
There has been a lot of talk about “law and order” this election cycle. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to bring back former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s stop-and-frisk tactics. This means stopping citizens without reasonable suspicion and patting them down for guns or drugs. Trump says it worked exceptionally well in New York City. Many disagree, but in any event, the courts declared the practice—as employed in New York City—unconstitutional. Although the Donald will probably tell you no one reads the Constitution as much as he does, he doesn’t seem concerned about the Fourth Amendment, or the Bill of Rights in general.
Why can’t we talk about “liberty and order”? The phrase most often used to describe American justice is “Ordered Liberty.” The problem with ordered liberty today is there is a whole lot of order but not much liberty.
Even economic liberty in America has declined in recent decades. America has slipped from its usual perch at the very top echelon of nations that appreciate economic liberties to a mediocre 16th place in the libertarian Fraser Institute’s rankings. If Hillary Clinton is elected, you can be sure our standing will slip even more. She is prepared to come with her army of regulators, who will make economic life even more uselessly complicated. Even when she talks about government funding minority green startups, she has it backwards. Startups are the product of a strong economy, which can afford to take risks. Startups themselves simply cannot expand economic growth. Government does not have the knowledge or incentives to pick the winners and losers in an economy.
At the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Cory Booker told us we cannot just tolerate one another, we must absolutely love one another. But then “loving” politicians will fine a baker who won’t write words that trouble her conscience on a wedding cake tens of thousands of dollars. That is not even tolerance, never mind love! Liberals like to accuse the right of being authoritarian, but what is more authoritarian than forcing everyone to love one another?
Only classical liberals understand that government is not a positive force for good overall. You have more chance of being killed by IKEA than by the Islamic State, but every day’s news cycle is relentlessly about the Takfiris in the Middle East and North Africa that the U.S.—despite having the most powerful military in history—cannot defeat. Becoming “radicalized” no longer means you smoke pot and protest war. Instead, it means you arm yourself and kill unarmed people while yelling “Allahu Akbar”!
If Obama and Hillary did not exactly found the Islamic State, they certainly subsidized it. Like Dr. Frankenstein, we battle what we ourselves created.
The idea that we should just stop fighting these wars, on the Wahabis overseas, on drug sellers and users, on prostitutes and their clients, on Christians who believe in traditional morality or peaceful Muslims who want to build a mosque, or on the coal and oil and nuclear power industry, is now considered extreme and unthinkable. Yet only a century ago, before World War I, there was no such thing as money laundering or a war on drugs. A middle-class person could travel the world without a passport and invest his actual gold or silver coins in whatever venture caught his fancy without asking permission of a government bureaucrat at every turn. A century of big government wars, laws and regulations has resulted in an almost complete loss of basic freedoms with no real reversal to a truly free society immanent.
But, but, they hate us for our freedom!