And here is a grim machine of arms, prisons, and gallows, and the men operating it, ready to crush those who dare to disobey." -Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, p. 719.
|What becomes of us when the dams burst?|
What becomes of us when these dams burst? At what point do we hold the line on the growth of this grim machine, or even roll it back? Congress will not. Weep and wail as they may about the aggrandizement of executive power at the expense of congressional, they all recognize this truth: a rising tide lifts all ships. It is often argued that each branch strengthens itself at the expense of others, but this is nonsense. As Nock argued, Government does not grow by cannibalizing itself, but by absorbing the power of the people. As executive power grows, so does the power of the legislature and courts. The proportion of power wielded by each branch may fluctuate, but the total state power is ever-increasing.
Despite the sincere convictions of most conservatives, the U.S. Constitution cannot restrain this growth. It may be a truism, but if it could, it would. As Lysander Spooner wrote in the appendix of "No Treason:" "whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain --- that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."
Spooner contended, as did Rothbard and others, that the Constitution represented a betrayal, not an enshrinement, of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
Perhaps a return to Constitutionalism is a movement in the right direction; a halfway house between the current trend toward totalitarianism and liberty. I am inclined to think that it is. However, that is a means, not a destination. Even if we could re-establish strict Constructionism tomorrow; If we could burn the Federal Reserve, dissemble the welfare state, abandon military interventionism, and dissolve the myriad departments of the Federal Leviathan, our victory would be but for a day. Another FDR, or Hamilton, or Lincoln, or Johnson would arise...and we would again shuffle down the road to serfdom.
Constitutionalism, then, is a means to a much greater end; a step toward the withering of the State and all its vicious mechanisms.