Taking the great Dutch liberal Hugo Grotius as his starting point, GMU economics professor Dan Klein ruminates here on an important question: How should moral people react when they’re supposed to enforce bad laws?
Grotius thought they should not. Klein agrees. Taking a current dispute, he writes, “Making children wear masks is, in my judgment, particularly awful and senseless. Likewise, vaccine mandates.”
Returning to Grotius, Klein continues, “Grotius by no means approved of rash disobedience of any law with which you happen to disagree. But you remain responsible to refrain from carrying out orders that your cool conscience tells you are absurd, violative of human dignity, and harmful to the common good.”
There is a tradition in America of civil disobedience based on conscience. It needs a revival today.
One more thing. For years now, Dan has been trying to rescue the word “liberal” from its century of abuse. He refers to Grotius as a liberal and indeed he was. Let’s not call the mandate-crazed politicians who are in control “liberal.” Let’s call them authoritarian or statist or something that actually makes sense.