Freedom and Authority - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Freedom and Authority

Radley Balko links to an old speech that was given by Rudy Giuliani in 1994, which libertarians have been circulating for years, but is evidently new to Balko:

We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don’t see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

Balko concludes that, “Rudy’s entire career, going back to his days as a U.S. attorney and Justice Department drug warrior, has been about accumulating more power for government, and fostering an authority fetish in the governed.”

Quite the contrary. Giuliani’s entire career was based on making sure that government properly performed it’s primary (and only truly legitimate function), which is to protect individuals. From taking down the mob as prosecutor, to transforming a crime-ridden city as mayor, that’s what his career has been about.

The statement “freedom is about authority” sounds ominous when taken completely out of context, but put in context it’s perfectly rational and prudent. When Giuliani made those comments New York City was a cesspool of crime-with about 2,000 people being murdered each year. A large part of the reason was a liberal attitude that had predominated since the 1960s that went so far in the direction of protecting the criminals and handcuffing law enforcement that government could not carry out its core function of protecting its citizens. To Giuliani, freedom was just a theoretical concept if people were too afraid to exercise their freedoms for fear of being raped, beaten, mugged, or killed. So what Giuliani was saying in this speech was that freedom requires authority. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement. It’s what separates a truly free society from a state of anarchy.

Also, Balko’s assertion that Giuliani’s entire career has been about “accumulating more power for government” is utter hogwash. In the very speech that Balko links to, Giuliani said, “We constantly present the false impression that government can solve problems that government in America was designed not to solve.” He also said, “We’re going to come through this when we realize that it’s all about, ultimately, individual responsibility.”

As mayor, Giuliani did go a long way in instilling this responsibility and reducing the role of government in people’s lives. He cut taxes and slashed welfare rolls, and focused his attention on protecting individuals. Sounds, dare I say it, libertarian.

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