RE: POL: Extropianism and Politics

Billy Brown (
Fri, 19 Mar 1999 14:58:40 -0600

Terry Donaghe wrote:
> Can such a government keep itself from travelling down the same road
> that we have? Is there any way to prevent the slide into
> bigstatism/socialism with democracy???


The key problem with past attempts at constitutional government seems to be a gradual erosion of the barriers intended to keep government in check. They are constantly tested, and occasionally some government encroachment slips by. Since nothing ever rolls back these encroachments, the result is a gradual slide into tyranny.

One simple way to slow this process down is to reduce the forces that work to make government grow. By ensuring that the initial government is small, with severely constrained powers and multiple checks and balances, you can ensure that there is little it can do that will catch the eye of special interest groups. The less the government can do, the fewer resources will be devoted to making it do things.

A second approach, which has never actually been attempted to my knowledge, is to install active measures designed to roll back trespasses and encourage deference to the constitution. Create a criminal code to back up your constitution, and a separate police agency to enforce it. Set up a group whose job is repealing old laws. Allow the supreme court to hear peremptory challenges to the constitutionality of any government action. Things like that.

A third option, and IMO by far the most important, is simply to make sure that the populace wants a limited government. When a republic slips into tyranny, it is usually because its citizens demanded to have a dictator. If 70% of the population diligently guards their freedom, no special interest will ever make much headway. Conversely, if only 5% even know what the constitution says, no possible system of barriers will hold for long.

IMO, it would be feasible to craft a new constitution that would implement a government capable of delivering just about everything modern libertarians would like to see. It could easily be made much more stable than America's original system, while at the same time being much better at coping with a real emergency. Best of all, the project would not be nearly as risky as an attempt to implement pure anarchy.

Of course, we aren't likely to actually be able to set up such a system anytime soon, but it is still an interesting topic. Who knows? Maybe someday we will actually have the opportunity to set up an independent government somewhere.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I