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Starting from the most recent political-constitutional debate in western democracies on issues such as the relations between federations and their single component-states, or the fiscal question, the author observes first that, historically, the principal role of constitutions has been to protect the governed from the interference of governments. From this perspective – which is that of the classical liberal tradition – Block re-examines four fundamental principles of liberal political theory, designed precisely to guarantee the freedom of the citizen in his relations with the state: individualism, the right to private ownership, the preference granted, on principle, to competitive markets as opposed to public intervention in economic affairs and, finally, the notion of limited government. Block maintains that these principles still hold good: indeed, he claims that almost all the most serious problems which afflict contemporary democracies derive from failure to comply with these very principles, with increasing restrictions on individual rights, especially in economic affairs, and the expansion of the public sector.