Libertarian Politics

What Comes After the Constitution?


The constitution is broken. Either it authorizes this spendthrift maxarchist police state, or it fails to prevent it. Much of those four historic pieces of parchment are dead letter. The president rules by executive order and sends us into wars on his own authority. The second amendment has been eviscerated. The fourth amendment is a cruel joke. The tenth amendment died at least 150 years ago. No matter how you slice it, the constitution is not working out.

Articles of Confederation?

So what comes next? Do we revert to the Articles of Confederation? That was a constitution too! The fact is that parchment and ink will never protect you from theft, fraud, assault or death. And the Articles didn’t even protect us from the (current) constitution. So, no, we can’t evolve backwards.


Secession may open a few cracks in the federal state’s iron cage, but beyond that we can expect the tyranny to continue, albeit on a smaller stage. After all, a state is just a small country with a … constitution! If it fails on a large scale, why would it work on a small scale? The facts of the matter remain unchanged. Why trade a tyrant 2000 miles away for one 200 miles away? It’s only a marginal improvement, if that.

Another Kind of Secession

“The only idea they have ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this – that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot.” – Lysander Spooner

There is another kind of secession though – personal secession. As individuals, we can secede from this forced union of souls. Do you yearn for fiscal restraint, accessibility and accountability from your government? Is government not providing the kind of mutual aid and healthcare you expect? This may be the best solution for you. You decide how much to spend on services formerly provided by government. If your new service providers aren’t accessible or accountable, take your business elsewhere! If you can’t find an acceptable service provider, join with like-minded folks to start your own – no need to lobby Congress for permission first.

Government Services Better Provided by Individuals

The services you expect from government can be, or are already being, provided (better) by individuals. Roads are built and maintained by individuals all the time, whether governments hire them or not. There is already a thriving private market for home and workplace security. Private and family schools have left government ones in the dust. Before government butted in, private mutual aid was not only common but indefinitely sustainable. Healthcare was affordable.

Call it the Statement of Principles

What should follow the constitution then? I propose an agreement among individuals. Call it the Statement of Principles. All signatories agree to not commit aggression and to honor any contracts they voluntarily make (i.e., natural law). The Statement of Principles might go something like this:

I solemnly promise to never commit aggression against a fellow human being, nor to voluntarily and knowingly support the commission of aggression against a fellow human being. I will honor to the letter any contracts that I enter into. Should I fail to honor this promise, I will make all appropriate efforts to reach a settlement with the aggrieved party. If we are unable to reach an agreement, I will voluntarily submit to arbitration by a judge and jury, if need be, that is mutually agreeable to both myself and the complaining party.

300 Million Checks and Balances

How is it enforced though? Where’s the provision for police, national defense, courts, hospitals, the FDA …? If the 3 branches of checks and balances in the constitution appealed to you, consider how 300 million checks and balances would be even better. Parties to any controversies can hire their own judges and juries to hear any disputes they can’t resolve themselves. Communities can voluntarily band together to purchase home security services cheaply, or provide it themselves. Habitual criminals can be locked out of civilized locales. We can work together locally to solve our problems without the artificial constraint of getting it approved by 546 double-dealers in the District of Columbia.

Photo credit: notionscapital. Photo license.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

9 replies on “What Comes After the Constitution?”

The Spoonerite regurgitation of “the Constitution authorizes/fails to stop tyranny” line is misleading. Of course, no piece of paper can protect you, it’s a damn piece of paper. In the same way that the Bible can’t make Christians emulate Christ, and libertarian writings cannot make people act libertarian, the Constitution cannot force people to follow it.

The whole point of the Constitution was to lay a groundwork for the nation people wanted to have, so “We the People” would willingly uphold the belief in freedom and liberty. If the people don’t support it, of course it won’t work. Nothing will.

As for creating smaller areas of tyranny, via secession, I think the ultimate goal IS personal secession, of a sort, in creating communities of like-minded people who govern themselves. Every time there’s a problem, segregate yourself, and avoid interacting with those who wish to do you harm; continually smaller pieces until everyone is free.

Even in a free society you’ll have people that disagree on specifics. Some people may decide that trespassing should be punished with death. That makes sense to me under the idea of Castle Doctrine, though people always draw the line in different places. Is it your bedroom, or your whole house, or everything within a certain distance of your front door? Must the trespasser knowingly be armed? Must you give him/her a chance to retreat? The idea of consolidated areas to define these particulars is why states were created, otherwise one set of rules could be completely different from those on the other side of the fence, to someone like Thoreau, walking across the countryside (though really, Thoreau was a momma’s boy who didn’t stray far from home).

I understand that the idea behind statehood was to well define these areas of assumptive law. If your response is something along the lines of “I believe that ALL people should fall under the definition of NAP as I personally see it” then you’re really just arguing for a less-restrictive world government.

LOL James.

Bryce, death as punishment for trespassing is absurd. It is not reasonable. Just because there is no government, doesn’t mean there will be no law. See the common law. Violations of the NAP should be responded to symmetrically. IOW, you don’t respond to a footstep on your property with a nuclear bomb.

Where do I say, imply or where it can be inferred that I support imposing the NAP on everyone? It is so boring and tedious when people try to force their assumptions into the discussion or put words in my mouth.

Can someone define NAP? And IOW, while we’re at it? If they’re delineated in the article, I somehow missed it…

Otherwise, fantastic George! And hi, James. :)

Good article George. I do tho agree with the comment that Jbryce had that Spooner’s line is a strawman. Pretty much all Constitutionalists I know recognize that the Constitution isn’t self-enforcing…and that it was supposed to serve as a kind of framework so the people knew what the government was supposed to do and not do.

However, I think this view of the Constitutionalists is irrational. Why? Because I think that’s going against the incentive structure that is in place…as Public Choice theory economists have been pointing out, it is rational for average Joe to be ignorant of politics and “public policy” (there busy working, raising families, trying to make ends meet, etc–they don’t have time for political clap trap).

Scriptures Stay, even before and after Constitutions.

To build a healthy society you need some basic laws,
something easy to understand, to use as foundation.
To this day in human history you will never find something more solid than The Ten Commandments.
Because faith can be internal & personal, read from the bottom-up. The 10th Command provides security, neighborhood is safe from mischief,& 9th = No false witness.
Is this not easy to understand and accept ?

There is nothing new under the sun, we remain humans, even as time has moved forward and there is technological progress.

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