Parchment, Guns and Constitutional Order,
by Richard E. Wagner (1993)
In this far-reaching and insightful monograph, Richard Wagner exposes the failure of the United States constitution to overcome the tyranny of the majority so feared by the Founding Fathers.
A written constitution is enforceable mainly through the construction of a self-supporting balance of private interests. Using this insight, Professor Wagner suggests a balance between the principles of good constitutional order and the impulse of self-interest necessary for the preservation of the rights to life, liberty and property. He concludes his analysis with an assessment of the prospects of converting the rent seeking state into an entrepreneurial state self-interestedly committed to classical liberal principles of constitutional order.
The author clearly demonstrates why the tyranny of the majority cannot be prevented by a written constitution unless the institutions of society are designed to offer complementary support to limited government and the rule of law. Parchment, Guns and Constitutional Order offers a solution designed to harness the political process to that objective.
David N. Laband, Auburn University. Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. XXXIII, 835-836 (June 1995)
"Professor Wagner makes the eminently believable case that the parchment upon which our constitution is written does not afford much protection against creeping socialism..."
David Schap, College of Holy Cross, Public Choice, 82: 193-196 (March 1995)
"...the defense of liberty falls anew on each generation, as Hayek and others have noted. Would that Wagner's essay be read widely by the prideful moderns."