From Critiques Of Libertarianism
The Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law at New York University.
- Passions and Constraint: On the Theory of Liberal Democracy (book)
- The Anatomy of Antiliberalism (book, online)
- The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes (book, online)
- Legally enforceable rights cost money, a fact ignored by many libertarian ideologues.
- The Liberal Idea [More...]
- Stephen Holmes sketches out a set of claims that are broadly characteristic of liberal political thought since the time of the classical liberals until now.
Philosophers also distinguish between liberty and the value of liberty. Liberty has little value if those who ostensibly posess it lack the resources to make their rights effective. Freedom to hire a lawyer means little if all lawyers charge fees, if the state will not help, and if you have no money. The right to private property, an important part of liberty, means little if you lack the resources to protect what you own and the police are unavailable. Only liberties that are valuable in practice lend legitimacy to a liberal political order.
Stephen Holmes & Cass Sunstein, The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes, p. 20.
The most ardent antigovernment libertarian tacitly accepts his own dependency on govenment, even while rhetorically denouncing signs of dependency in others. This double-think is the core of the American libertarian stance.
Stephen Holmes & Cass Sunstein, The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes, p. 63.
David Hume, the Scottish philosopher, liked to point out that private property is a monopoly granted and maintained by public authority at the public's expense.
Stephen Holmes & Cass Sunstein, "The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes", p. 61.
At common law, only the sovereign is said to have an absolute interest in land: ordinary landowners 'hold of the sovereign.'
Stephen Holmes & Cass Sunstein, "The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes", p. 63.
Authority and liberty are interdependent, not simply opposed. As Kant, among others, made dear, rights (including property rights) are defined and enforced by the state. Referring to "natural rights," Emile Durkheim convincingly wrote that "the State creates these rights, gives them an institutional form, and makes them into realities." To violate liberal rights is to disobey the liberal state. In a sovereignless condition, rights can be imagined but not experienced. In a society with a weak state, such as Lebanon for the past decade, rights themselves are weak or underenforced. Statelessness means rightlessness, as the story of migrating Kurds, Vietnamese and Caribbean boat people, and many others should by now have made abundantly clear.
Stephen Holmes, "The Liberal Idea"