Conceived in Tribalism
By Bryan Caplan
Here’s a puzzling reaction to my doubts about the wonders of American independence:
The chief goal of libertarianism is not low taxes or any specific public policy outcome but rather liberty.
Actually, the libertarian view is that liberty consists in specific public policies: self-ownership, private property, and free markets – or perhaps to be more precise, liberty consists in the absence of public policies that interfere with self-ownership, private property, and free markets.
Winning the war gave us, as Abraham Lincoln proclaimed four score and seven years later, “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
As a consequence of the war, we gained our independence from the British crown, free to decide our own public policy.
Huh? If we’d remained British, “we” would still be as free (or unfree) to decide “our” public policy as we are now. The only difference is that “we” would be Britons practicing “self-government,” instead of Americans.
All this brings me back to my main point: The “freedom” of the American Revolution had little to do with individual liberty. Instead, it was about tribalism: the “freedom” of the newly-created American tribe to rule Americans.