England’s Levellers: The World’s First Libertarian Movement

6704Roberta Modugno writes in today’s Mises Daily:

One of the most important of the Levellers’s contributions to the theoretical foundation of the libertarian doctrine was, according to Rothbard, that they, “transformed the rather vague and holistic notions of natural law into the clear cut, firmly individualistic concepts of natural rights of every individual human being,” including fundamental tenets of libertarianism. This included the right to self-ownership, methodological individualism, individual natural rights theory, sound property rights, and economic freedom.

Lilburne defended natural law as “Nature and reason” and “the grounds of all just laws” and that “therefore against this Law, prescriptions, statutes, nor customs may not prevail. And if any be brought in against it, they be no prescriptions, statutes nor customs, but things void, and against justice …”

In 1646 while Lilburne was imprisoned for high treason, Overton wrote A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens, and other Free-Born People of England, to their own House of Commons, urging that Lilburne be freed. The Remonstrance became a great Leveller manifesto.

Comments are closed.