July 10, 2020


Ancient Liberty, Modern Divisions (Iain Murray, 7/08/20, Law & Liberty)

In more modern research, Valentina Arena of University College London has identified a difference in the definitions of libertas that emerged between the two ever-shifting factions of Republican Rome, the optimates and the populares. The optimates, she finds, used libertas to mean the freedom guaranteed by Rome's mixed constitution. The populares, on the other hand, focused on the traditional formulation of libertas populi to argue that any political arrangement that did not give preference to the people over elites was no freedom at all. [...]

The Gadsden Flag libertarians need to understand that bookish libertarians simply want to improve the lot of those who have gotten a raw deal from the institutions the Gadsden libertarians seek to defend. The bookish libertarians need to understand the value the Gadsden libertarians see in those institutions and recognize that when people feel their way of life is threatened they are liable to react harshly.

The synthesis of this mutual understanding could be of benefit to both. An American liberty that sees its cops not as soldiers, but as guardians of ordered liberty, for instance, should be a liberty that both can agree on. Similarly, if American liberty is centered on a constitutional order and its institutions, both sides should agree that an over-mighty executive should be restrained by Congress and courts, even if that means a popular executive doesn't always get his way.

The American tradition of liberty has long encompassed both Roman interpretations of the term. It would be a tragedy to see us repeat the mistake of the Senate and People of Rome in allowing the difference in interpretations to divide us.

The point of republican is that it affords no preference and can not be used to preserve privilege. The error in the argument here is that it is the populists trying to preserve their status.

Posted by at July 10, 2020 7:02 AM