Having recently served as a discussion leader at one of our Liberty Fund co-sponsored Advanced Topics in Liberty (AT) events, Dr. Birzer was primed for Dr. Comegna’s first question: Are you a Federalist?
“You know, actually, I would say when I was a high school debater—so way back in the eighties—I would’ve considered myself a huge Federalist; still a free market libertarian at the time, but I was really into James Madison,” Dr. Birzer begins. He goes on to discuss his love of history, and how his initial reading of the Federalist Papers had made an impact on him.
I think there were really good things that both sides brought to the table, and again, if we’re going to have a government, which in our foreseeable future we are, I think that probably the best solution is to go for a kind of small libertarian republic, a very localized one.— Dr. Brad Birzer
“I was very taken with [the Federalist Papers],” says Dr. Birzer. “Of course, at the time, I thought they were perfect. As I’ve gotten older, I definitely thought of myself more as a kind of conservative Anti-Federalist or an extremely liberal and open Federalist. I think there were really good things that both sides brought to the table, and again, if we’re going to have a government, which in our foreseeable future we are, I think that probably the best solution is to go for a kind of small libertarian republic, a very localized one.”
As the conversation unfolds, Drs. Birzer and Comegna discuss a myriad of topics, including the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Abraham Lincoln, before detailing the discussions that stemmed from the recent AT event.
“So that Liberty Fund version of ‘The Federalist Papers’ is by far the best one I’ve seen, and there are a lot of competitors out there,” Dr. Birzer says, speaking of some of the readings discussed at the event.
“I think its greatest strength is its index. That index is masterful and you get a sense by looking at it just right away what the Federalists were really interested in and what they weren’t interested in.”
“The Declaration is only mentioned once, you find that Locke is only referenced, I think, once, if at all. And you have something like 75 to 80 references to the classical world within the Federalist Papers. So, I’ve actually handed that index out before to my students just to go through it, just to look at what’s important and what’s not within those Federalist Papers.”
If leading or hosting graduate discussions on fundamental topics in liberty sounds interesting to you, visit TheIHS.org for more information on our Advanced Topics in Liberty graduate discussions, co-sponsored by Liberty Fund, Inc., and the Institute for Humane Studies.