We forget easily that natural rights theory, depending as it does on postulates concerning an anterior “state of nature,” is the worst enemy of human freedom yet to be devised by the mind of man.  Liberty is precious to most of us, particularly to a people who have learned from their frontier heritage to connect a personal sense of worth and merit to what they achieve in making private decisions.  Yet only men who belong to something are in any durable sense free.  And belonging to a society also means citizenship in some kind of commonwealth and submission to some kind of law restrictive of our presocial freedom to a degree that goes beyond the mere prevention or punishment of crime.  Our forefathers knew the costs of the civil condition, but did not speak well of life in a state of nature.  They avoided “constructivist rationalism” (to use Hayek’s terms), regardless of its ostensible connection with “the rights of man.”  Even the most liberal spirits among the Framers of the Constitution and heroes of the Revolution fall short of compliance with the full libertarian paradigm.  Thomas Jefferson, with very slight revisions, fought to keep the English common law in force in Virginia: that law “beyond the cunning of reason,” where custom reigns supreme….Usually the freedoms of which they spoke with fervor were part of the warp and woof of an established way of life.  Most of them understood that “Liberty, like happiness, is most perfect when least remarked.  As most misery is caused by the pursuit of abstract happiness, distinct from the occupations that make men happy, so most tyranny springs from the struggle for an abstract liberty, distinct from the laws and institutions that make men free.” ~M.E. Bradford, Remembering Who We Are: Observations of a Southern Conservative (University of Georgia Press, 1985)