By Robert W. Hoffert

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But their law-enforcing powers are only powers to enforce Page 7 natural law on themselves. There is no natural authority of one individual over any other individual. Thus, nature has the inconvenience of a law that can order life only through the self-enforcing acts of competitively self-interested individuals. This creates quite insecure circumstances, especially for calculating, self-interested individuals. Even if most individuals are scrupulous in their self-enforcement of natural law, will everyone be similarly scrupulous?

To wage that battle, it must give positive leadership so that the community's proper essence will prevail. Such an effort inevitably will disturb and destroy orders at odds with "natural" communal values and will be animated by a passion contrary to the pursuit of self-interest among persons who have accommodated themselves to the practical necessities of the established social order. It is not surprising that a communal tradition would press for an enlargement of the public sector. As a result, government, law, and the general life of the community have an expanded public role, which substantially reduces both the form and significance of the private realm.

An interpretation of American politics is then possible that accounts for its customary forms of political expression, its unanticipated complexities and confusions, and the tensions between political expression and the attendant complexities. Specifically, this exploration of America's familiar political understandings proceeds within two distinct but related contexts. First, it provides a reading of the theory of politics upon which the Articles of Page xiii Confederation and Perpetual Union's governmental plan is based.

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A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas by Robert W. Hoffert


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