By Alexander S. Chamales
Much of Libertarian philosophy revolves around Natural Law. These rights, of course, are not derived from the laws of men, but something greater, whether that be God, nature (as the name implies), the principles of logic, or plain common sense. One proponent of such ideas was the esteemed English judge, Sir William Blackstone. In his opus, the Commentaries on the Laws of England, Blackstone defines three supreme rights from which the rest of Natural Law is derived: the right to personal security, the right to personal liberty, and the right to personal property. The right to self-defense can be reasonably deduced from the need to defend the rights of personal security and personal property. Likewise, the right to free speech and free religion find their basis in the right to personal liberty. An individual can justifiably act on any of these rights as long as he or she does not infringe on the personal security, personal liberty, or personal property of another individual. Thus, when Natural Law is practiced in a nation, all citizens are free to be self-autonomous and engage with their fellow man from a voluntary position instead of a coercive one.
Most western countries claim that their governments are established in a way that respects natural rights and individualism. They set up voting systems where citizens elect officials to represent them. These officials in turn write and vote on policies that will affect the nation at large. They may also have referendums, where the citizens vote directly for or against policies. These types of governments are referred to as representative republics, or more vaguely, “democracies”. They are meant to allow individuals to have a saw in how the government operates, and thus protect their natural rights. Unfortunately, the good intentions of this process are not often realized.
This system of government has noteworthy flaws. Most nations (especially those in the postmodern West) have citizens that do not cherish their natural rights. Even in the United States, which is popularly referred to as “the land of the free”, some politicians and their supporters favor gun seizures, raising taxes, and socialized medicine (commonly referred to as universal healthcare). All three of these policies directly infringe on the right to personal property. If the officials do not get their statist codes passed in their respective legislative body, citizens may be given the opportunity to vote away their rights directly by mode of referendum. Another imperfection of democracy is that even if citizens want their natural rights respected, their officials are not beholden to them until their term runs out. It’s common knowledge that many politicians depend on PACs (political action committees) and corporations for funding; these groups don’t offer the candidates large sums of money out of the kindness of their hearts. The PACs and corporations have legislative agendas that they pressure their political pawns to carry out, threatening to shift their money to a potential replacement if they do not comply. This forces officials to serve the needs of their patrons rather than the needs of their constituents for the vitality of their political career. Another atrocious (but often ignored) example of elected officials acting against the interest of their voters is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s confiscation of gold in 1933. This elected official seized the gold of American citizens to help alleviate the government’s financial woes during the Great Depression (which happened to be caused by elected officials and the bureaucrats they appointed). While Americans were compensated with $20.67 an ounce (the official price of gold at the time), shortly after the American dollar lost 40% of its value and the price of gold rose to $35 an ounce. Unfortunately, Roosevelt was reelected at the end of his term, but even if he had not been, the American citizenry still could not have reclaimed their stolen gold. By holding natural rights in such low esteem, democracy often spits in the face of the very people it claims to empower.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, monarchy may be a valid mode of government for preserving natural rights. If the king’s power over his subjects’ liberty and property is greatly restricted through a well thought out document, a modernized Magna Carta if you will, the people could be quite free. This document will declare that the citizens natural rights will not be infringed, and the king would not have a say in social or economic policies; those will be decided by the people and the market. The monarch’s only concern would be national defense. If the king uses his office to violate the natural rights of his citizens, the document should have a system in which he is peacefully deposed; if he does not comply, the people will be free to dispose of him violently.
While advocating for this form of monarchy would likely fall on deaf ears in the West (particularly the United States), there may will be an option to realize this system elsewhere. The liberty-loving entrepreneur and philanthropist, Peter Thiel, and Patri Friedman, grandson of the great free market advocate and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, launched a project they named the Seasteading Institute. The two are arranging their resources to create cities floating in the sea in which experimental forms of government can be tested in a safe and isolated environment. If the policies of a floating city fail, very few people are hurt; however, if the policies of the city succeed, the nations of the world will have the opportunity to learn from them. A Seasteading city would be the perfect place to test this form of monarchy. If this option is viable, I say long live the king.
Author’s Note: I do not necessarily consider myself a monarchist, nor do I bear any ill will towards our elected representatives. This article is simply meant to explore the relationship between the government and Natural Law.
You can find Alexander on Twitter @A_Chamales