Jonathan Rauch on John Locke’s America

Jonathan Rauch

It was [John] Locke, followed by Adam Smith and others, who first built the theory of liberal social mechanisms – public processes, like voting or trading or performing experiments, in which no one gets special personal authority (no kings, no dictators, no high priests or oracles) and no one in particular gets to control the outcome.  In the liberal scheme of things, no matter who you are, your vote is just a vote, your dollar is just a dollar, and your experiment had better work when anyone else tries it. Moreover, there is no last election, last trade, or last hypothesis.   America is John Locke’s country. …

Outside, perhaps, of the inner circle of my family, there is no man or woman, no president or priest, whom I would fight and die for.  But I would willingly give my life for the U.S. Constitution, which is a set of rules.

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