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Libertarian thought, based on the non-aggression principle, is an attempt to determine what the proper limit of force is in society. To put it another way, what is the proper limit of government (for government is the organization of society that claims the right to use force)? Anarchism, the logical extreme of libertarian thought, disposes of the need for government entirely by asserting that the right to use force comes down to the right of the individual to assert their boundaries over themselves and their possessions, to defend these boundaries as they see fit (while simultaneously respecting the boundaries of others as far as possible), and to seek assistance from others in this defense. None of this necessarily requires an organization that we would recognize as government. Nevertheless, if government adheres to the limits imposed on it by natural law, by recognizing such natural law principles as the non-aggression principle, the principle of subsidiarity, and the ultimate primacy of the human person in society, there is no reason to say that government so understood could not exist in a just society, though it would require a new definition of government.

The Declaration of Independence speaks clearly of the primacy of the human person vis-a-vis government: “government gets its just powers from the consent of the governed”. What it does not do is clearly analyze the limits of government (although if government did, in fact, get its just powers from the consent of the governed, it would most likely find its natural limits). The US Constitution attempted to set limits by spelling them out in a document, but failed in that endeavor because of the ingenuity of living humans to willfully reinterpret the dead written word beyond all reason.

It is the task of the current age to redistribute power to the people so broadly that no elite can again inflict unlimited government on a people with the will to be free.


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