9.2.2 Limiting the Scope of Governance

Limiting the scope of governance is essential if people are to be as free as possible to live their lives in the way they want to.

The issue of governance applying to people who have not explicitly agreed to it was touched on earlier (2.3.2).  It can be seen as a constraint on individual liberty.  There is a wide range of individualist views (6.2.2), from a Lockean assertion of individual rights to a libertarian free-for-all, but they all believe in the primacy of capitalism and property rights (3.2.1).  Several areas of economic concern have been highlighted:

●  Individualists have a strong desire to minimise government spending and taxation (3.5.2).

●  Many of them believe that people should pay for all their wants and needs, so that individual choices determine what goods and services are supplied. This, it is argued, leads to better outcomes than governments making such decisions.  The Adam Smith Institute, for example, works “to promote neoliberal and free market ideas” and its website lists its beliefs.

These arguments for limiting the scope of governance conflict with collectivist concepts of government responsibilities for furthering the common good.  The contrasting economic aspects of these different ideologies were summarised earlier (3.5.9), and they are highly visible in the political negotiation of budgets (6.7.1)

Other aspects of individual liberty are also important:

●  Subsidiarity can counter undue domination by central government (6.6.2), so that power is distributed and services can be locally negotiated.

●  The law can avoid placing unnecessary constraints on people’s moral choices (5.4.4) and protecting their freedom of speech (5.4.5).

Individualists in democratic countries can limit the scope of governance through political negotiation (6.8.4), but they must depend on their government’s need for acceptability in authoritarian political systems (



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/922a.htm.