An Open Invitation to Joe Sobran

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read your recent column, The
Lesser Evil
, with great interest. You relate how you consider
yourself a moderate, willing to accept a Constitutionally limited
government, given that men such as Lysander Spooner, Patrick Henry,
and Murray Rothbard thought the Constitution tyrannical. You write
how the government has expanded by fits and starts to the point
that Ron Paul is the lone constitutionalist “crank” left in Congress.
He is truly the exception that proves the rule: our government
is no longer bound by anything resembling the written limitations
of the Constitution.

used to share your minarchist view. A small, limited government
seemed possible and pragmatic. That's changed since September
11th. Instead of rethinking the foreign policy that
contributed to the attacks, the government piled on more of the
same. Instead of firing the chiefs of the FAA, CIA, and FBI, those
agencies get more funding. The attacks on September 11th
have given the federal government an excuse to shear all but the
ghostly forms of any remaining constitutionally guaranteed liberties
from a sheep-like people. Torture, constant surveillance, seizure
upon suspicion, suspension of habeas corpus, abolishment of Posse
Comitatus, and warrant-less searches of your person and property
are either in effect or under serious debate. Imagine, torture
in the United States! The United States has become a police state,
all with our precious, written Constitution still moldering under
glass in Washington, D.C.

the span of less than 100 years communism peaked and collapsed
in the Soviet Union. Communism failed because it was based on
severely flawed assumptions about people, and what motivates them.
Mr. Sobran, I think it's time to admit that the idea of a Constitutionally
limited government has failed as well. It, too, is based on flawed
assumptions about people. Perhaps not as spectacularly wrong as
communism, but wrong, nonetheless. Since it has taken over 200
years to produce a country nearly as authoritarian as the Soviet
Union, and it has not yet collapsed, perhaps we can say constitutionally
limited republicanism is at least three times better than communism.
And we can always feel better about our revolutionaries than the
Russians do about the Bolsheviks; ours didn't purges millions
after winning the war.

men who founded this Republic by writing and ratifying the Constitution
understood the dangerous path they were taking. Students of antiquity,
they tried to avoid following the Roman path of Kingdom, then
Republic, then Empire, by writing everything down. It turns out
in practice that the "social contract" cannot bind the
politician or the entrenched bureaucrat, any more than the Soviet
Union could make the New Soviet Man.

things do change in this country, it will not be because the bureaucrats
come to work one day and say "Gee, we failed in our job.
The private market would be so much better at this." It will
be because the people have finally figured out that Ben Franklin
was right all along, liberty can't be traded for security.

your sentimental attachment to the Constitution must go. Like
communism, it may sound like a good idea on paper, but it hasn't
worked in practice. It just took longer to fail. I've made the
journey from skeptical Republican to minarchist Libertarian to
anarcho-capitalist in a few short years. Thankfully I had the
Internet, to help me stand on the libertarian shoulders of free-market
and freedom minder thinkers. Your writings were and are among
those that cause me to question and revise my viewpoints. I hope
you will consider doing the same, and move from Joe Sobran, reactionary
utopian to Joe Sobran, radical anarcho-capitalist. We could use
your help imagining the future.

29, 2001

John Keller
him mail]
owns a Technology
and a Real
business in Atlanta, GA.

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