It is difficult to imagine how a society where the majority of its members do not believe in individual liberty can become or remain a free society. There must be a tipping point, perhaps well short of a majority, where the mob seizes power or otherwise imposes its values on the rest of the people. This is why classical liberals such as James Buchanan or Friedrich Hayek placed so much importance on individual morality prevailing in society—the former calling for mutual morality within natural equality, the latter emphasizing traditional moral norms in a self-regulating order. .
Anarcho-capitalists and some more mainstream libertarians like Gordon Tullock answer that in a free society, it would be in everyone’s, or nearly everyone’s, interest to engage in and respect peaceful cooperation. But let us focus here on a society where there is a state whose main function is to maintain a free society against external and internal threats.
In America, laws in 27 states generally prohibit automakers from selling their vehicles to the public from company-owned stores, forcing them to use independent dealerships. (Selling online isn’t prohibited, but many customers apparently prefer a physical place where they can see the item and get more information.) The situation looks better than it did a half-dozen years ago, when in the previous 25 years all 50 states came, manufacturers’ stores all Prohibit sale. Although it is doubtful that public opinion has improved much against the disenchantment with electric vehicles (EVs).
Tesla has the advantage of selling care through its own stores in some restrictive states, but the resistance of independent dealerships and political bigotry is now hard to crack. What is the justification for this ban political bigotry?
Don Hall, president of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, put it bluntly:
When you have one person who controls all the marbles, you get the marbles they want to give you.
The suggestion is that the state and current rent-seeking businesses control all marble. It shows democracy as ancient collective freedom as opposed to modern freedom. Another example: Rivian, an EV startup, failed in its attempt to set up its own store in Georgia. Senate President Butch Miller, also a Honda dealer, announced, apparently referring to Jim Chen, a Rivian lobbyist (“The Man from Rivian Who Wants to Change How We Buy Cars,” The Wall Street JournalSeptember 17, 2022):
Why would 11 million Georgians change the way they do business to accommodate one person?
In a free-enterprise economy, by definition, an entrepreneur is allowed to challenge, through competition and “creative destruction,” what all other businesses do. Even if only one A Georgian willing to buy a car from a manufacturer willing to sell directly, the two would be free to trade. Note that if there were such a Georgian, or very few of them, there would be no reason for any car dealers or politicians to worry; They must fear that many consumers will prefer their banned alternative.
It is not to “collect” one person, even if there is only one, that 11 million Georgians “should” change their old ways. In a free society, unlike a socialist or fascist one, no one is forced to change his ways. No consumer and no producer can force everyone, let alone 11 million Georgians, to change their peaceful ways. But in such a society, a firm must be able to offer its own property to sell a car to anyone willing to buy one. The only “accommodation” for any individual is to recognize that he has the same freedom as 11 million others. This is called consumer sovereignty and free enterprise.
We can relate this issue to Gary Gerstol’s book Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government (See my review in Princeton University Press, 2015 regulations) Gerstel argued that the American Constitution created a limited central government but allowed the states to become little democratic leviathans. Many examples included slavery and official apartheid and sometimes trade regulation.
One hypothesis (which Gerstel, a lover of “good” leviathans, does not conceive) is that the American constitution suffered similar, though less severe, damage than the French constitution. Both the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789 attempted to marry individual liberty and the sovereignty of the people of 1793, an impossible feat. in his book liberalism (Paris, 1903), where you will find the French text of the two declarations, by Émile Faguet:
If the right of the people means its sovereignty, which is exactly what the authors say [French] The Bill of Rights states that the people as sovereign have the right to suppress individual rights. And therein lies the conflict. In the same bill of rights the rights of the people and the rights of the people, the sovereignty and liberty of the people, for example, written on equal footing, amount to combining water and fire, and please ask them to be with them. [My translation]
[In the original:] If the right of the people is sovereignty, which the authors of the Declaration say, the people have the right, in their sovereignty, to suppress all rights of individuals. And here is the conflict. In the same declaration the rights of man and the rights of men, the sovereignty and liberty of the people, for example, on an equal footing, pouring water and fire into them and then telling them to be good enough. to arrange together.