For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto

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9780026053006: For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto

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A classic that for over two decades has been hailed as the best general work on libertarianism available. Rothbard begins with a quick overview of its historical roots, and then goes on to define libertarianism as resting "upon one single axiom: that no man or group of men shall aggress upon the person or property of anyone else." He writes a withering critique of the chief violator of liberty: the State. Rothbard then provides penetrating libertarian solutions for many of today's most pressing problems, including poverty, war, threats to civil liberties, the education crisis, and more.

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Here again, Rothbard draws his argument from American history. He shows how dangerous it was for the US Constitution to entrust the Supreme Court with the job of policing the government for infractions against the Constitution. What it ended up doing, of course, was ratifying egregious violations of the Constitution, with full knowledge that there was no higher court to which the people themselves could appeal.

Rothbard isn t satisfied to make his case on this abstract level. He shows that the most pressing problems of society are wrapped up in government operations. Whether it is medical issues, the price of oil, the disaster of education, conflicts over religion, police corruption, or the scandal of war, the issues that are tearing us apart are invariably the result of government intervention into the sector. When markets are in full control whether markets for computer technology and software, or for cell phones we find not conflict but cooperation and progress.

And so Rothbard demonstrates the failure of government and the triumph of markets in a host of areas: personal liberties, education, welfare, inflation and the business cycle, monopoly and regulation, streets and roads, environmentalism and economic growth, and even police, courts, and law. Nor does he neglect the hugely important areas of trade, war, and foreign policy. He shows that states that are aggressive abroad do not maintain liberty at home. He also pioneers a theory of peace in absence of the state.

This book is generous with detail on the whole of American history, from the banking debates of the 19th century, through the welfare debate of the 1960s and the controversies over environmental regulation in the 1970s. He shows that the state creates social and economic problems and then further intervenes to make these problems worse then ever while increasing its power at the expense of everyone else. He is particularly good at highlighting who really benefits from government regulation: usually it is the largest corporations who are attempting to rig the game in their favor.

The anticipated effect of this book on both liberals and conservatives, the Left and the Right, is to force a rethinking of the typical categories. It asks that all sides face their hypocrisies: the Left favors freedom of speech but cares nothing for the private property that guarantees such freedom. The Right demands lower taxes but wages culture wars and real wars that grant government more power to take liberty and property from the American family.

As you can see, this is a radical and challenging book. We are given not only the big picture or a series of small studies but both at once, fully integrated into an analytical whole. Once you are exposed to the complete picture and For a New Liberty has been the leading means of exposure for more than a quarter of a century you cannot forget it. It becomes the indispensable lens through which to interpret events in the real world with the greatest possible clarity.

This book more than any other explains why Rothbard seems to grow in stature every year (his influence has vastly risen since his death), why the state continues to regard libertarian ideas as the gravest threat to its power, and why Rothbardianism has so many enemies on the left, right, and center.

Quite simply, the science of liberty that he brought into clear relief is as thrilling in the hope it creates for a free world as it is unforgiving of the error of power. Its logical and moral consistency, together with its empirical-explanato

Review:

Murray Rothbard is an economist, historian, political philosopher, iconoclast, and raconteur. He is also a masterful writer--passionate, rigorously logical, and always lively, with a special gift for making even the most complex issues understandable and interesting.

For A New Liberty is Rothbard's introduction to libertarianism, his Libertarian Manifesto. It is Rothbard in top form--a libertarian classic that for more than two decades has been hailed as the best general work on libertarianism available.

For a start, For A New Liberty is an exciting, exhilarating read. It begins with a fast overview of the historical roots of libertarianism: the Levelers, John Locke, classical liberalism, the American Revolution, and so on. Rothbard packs an extraordinary amount of history in a few pages, and establishes libertarianism as the current, and most rigorous and consistent, manifestation of a centuries-long drive for personal and economic liberty.

Rothbard then defines libertarianism. It rest, he tell us, "upon one single axiom: that no man or group of men shall aggress upon the person or property of anyone else." Having made the philosophical case for liberty, Rothbard--in one of the book's most powerful chapters--turns to a withering critique of the chief violator of liberty: the State. It is a breath-taking, impassioned demolition job. We see that not only is the emperor naked--he is a murder, tyrant, brigand, liar, and bungler.

Rothbard devotes the lengthiest section of For A New Liberty to showing how the free market and voluntary human action can do a far more efficient and fair job of supplying all the worthwhile services we have been told only government can provide. He provides penetrating libertarian solutions for many of today's most pressing problems, including pollution, poverty, war, threats to civil liberties, the education crisis, and others.

Libertarians are forever faced with a barrage of questions for the unconverted: What about roads? What about the poor? What about--ad infinitum. Here are tough, succinct, innovative, and convincing answers. -- James W. Harris

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