In the Trump Era, Remember Institutions
Prof. Brandon Turner says the Trump era is a crucial time for classical liberals to focus on the importance of institutions like the rule of law. Full video on Facebook
- The Rule of Law (video): Professor Tom Bell explains what the rule of and why it is importance.
- Stealing from the Poor to Give to the Rich: An Anti-Robin Hood Story (video): Professor Dan Russell explains how the rule of law and property rights allow people to create wealth
- What Does a Politician Mean When They Say They’re Pro Business? – Learn Liberty (video): Matthew Mitchell explains that politicians don’t always mean pro-markets when they say that they are pro-business/
What is it that enables people to trade with one another? What is it that enables us to feel secure in our property? It’s things like the independent judiciary and the rule of law.
This is a good place, actually, where I think libertarians and classical liberals can really see the sorts of advantages we get from drawing from the tradition that includes people like Hume and Montesquieu, particularly when it comes to things like the rule of law. When we tend to think about is Hillary free-market, or is Trump free-market, or anything like this, I think we tend to lose sight of what it would mean to be free-market. What is it that enables people to trade with one another? What is it that enables us to feel secure in our property? It’s things like the independent judiciary and the rule of law.
To the extent that the Trump administration has at least signaled, as far as I can tell, an unprecedented hostility to these basic principles, that is a real problem. In other words, being pro-free market, whatever … Trump talks a lot about his pro-business views, and how he’s going to be the pro-business president, and the best jobs president that God ever created, and all this kind of stuff. We have to remember that markets are more than just the volume of trade. Markets are more than just wealth. Markets are about more than just stock indexes. Markets have to do with freedom of contract. They have to do with the independence of the courts. They have to do with the idea of promises and the idea that the nation itself is bound to these promises.
The sense that you get — and the sense that has me really worried today, when you read something like Hume and Montesquieu — is that we don’t have a great grasp on how institutions like the rule of law come into being. In the West, depending on who you ask, it took 700 to 1,000 years to develop, slowly, organically, over time, through various fits and starts, to develop something like the rule of law. Once it’s gone, once the respect for the courts, and the respect for rule of law, and all this kind of stuff, once it’s gone, it’s very, very difficult to recapture. I think, as libertarians and classical liberals, this is a very good time to refocus our attention towards institutions and the way that particular institutions, as they developed in particular states and across particular states, the way that these prop up these much bigger ideas about markets, and trade, and free movement, and all that kind of stuff.