In the court case of McCullough vs. Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall concluded that “an unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.” What he meant by this is when a government is given the power to tax its citizens indefinitely, gains the power to destroy personal liberty and society as a whole. One hundred and fifty years later, Robert Nozick, an American libertarian philosophy would farther argue this point by stating that “Taxation of earning from labor is on a par with forced labor [civil service] … This makes them a part owner of you.” By doing so, Nozick equates taxation with civil service. Not only does he maintain that they are detrimental to the individual, he like Marshall, believes that forced civil service and taxation are damaging to a truly free society. In sharp contrast to this argument, Rousseau, the famous German author of “The Social Contract” claims that “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens … the state is not far from its fall.” He elaborates by asserting that “I hold enforced labor to be less opposed to liberty than taxes.” Whose ideal is correct, that is civil service (and taxation) a threat to liberty or the ultimate expression and tool of maintaining it?
To discover the answer to this question, it is necessary to adequately considered and critiques the viewpoints of Nozick, a libertarian philosopher and Rousseau, an Enlightenment thinker who holds a stout view nationalism and civil service. In addition, examples of the strengths and weaknesses of each theory will be discussed using Michael Sandel’s Justice. The relationship between civil duty and liberty is a non-inclusive as civil service oppresses, in most situations, personal freedom and a truly free society due to its poor results as well as its overall lowering of utility and personal freedom.
When first considering Rousseau’s viewpoint on civil service and markets, they appear to be far from the current American viewpoint on the subject. In American society, government intervention and civil service are seen as oppressing freedom rather than stimulating it while the market economy is the ultimate expression of freedom in society. In Justice, the example of military service is used as a main example of civic service. Sandel writes “… three ways of allocating military service we have considered – conscription, conscription with a provision for hiring substitutes, and the market system [volunteer army]” (75). Clearly from those three options, Rousseau would fall into the first one. Rousseau would hold that like other civil services, such as jury duty, military service is a civic duty and it is necessary for the maintenance of a society.
A number of criticisms of the view can be made. First, do people forced to do something against their will perform as well as a strictly volunteer force? No, a conscripted...