David Hume’s View on the Size and Scale of Government

This evening I received a link from a user on twitter ( @jpayneancap ) to an article by Donald W. Livingston over at The Imaginative Conservative discussing the ideal size and scale of the state. LibertyExplored takes no official position on whether there should be a state, as we realize the significant contribution that both anarchists and minarchists have made to the libertarian tradition. Our view is that any government that exists should be decentralized in nature and small in size.

In this article, Livingston lays out the approach David Hume takes to the issue of the size and scale of government. Hume holds that many small self-governing societies are better for the preservation of liberty than more centralized states with fewer representatives. The current ratio of people to representatives in the US exceeds 700,000 to 1, yet the number of representatives is rarely questioned or brought up in US political discourse. The original intent was that representatives would continue to be added as the population grew, however the number was capped at 435 in 1929. The US population has more than doubled since, and the peoples’ access to their representative continues to be further diluted as the population grows.

The article is lengthy but I found it to be very informative on Hume’s views and the reasoning behind them.

David Hume and the Republican Tradition of Human Scale

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