Limits on Power Are Limits on Oppression

December 19 marks the birth of John Taylor of Caroline, who remains virtually unknown, despite being called ‘the most impressive political theorist that America has produced.’
Taylor, who served in the Continental Army, Virginia Legislature and U. S. Senate, was an Antifederalist, opposed to the overpowering central government he believed the Constitution would create. As F. Thornton Miller put it, ‘For Taylor, the Constitution was of worth only if it could serve the more fundamental cause of liberty.’
Taylor defended liberty and states’ rights, advocated a strict interpretation of the Constitution’s terms against federal overreaching, and vigorously opposed government favors and protectionism, which he called ‘the most efficacious system of tyranny practicable over civilized nations.’
Taylor’s positions stand abandoned today. Government has become ever more the dispenser of special treatment at others’ expense. That is why Taylor’s 1822 Tyranny Unmasked merits revisiting.
Political liberty consists only in a government constituted to preserve and not to defeat the natural capacity of providing for our own good.
Governments able to do so uniformly sacrifice the national interest to their own.

This post was published at Mises Canada on DECEMBER 29, 2017.

 

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