Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
Why Libertarians Believe There is Only One Right
Non-libertarians often find libertarianism baffling. Notice the fundamentally puzzled tone of so many critiques of libertarianism – like, for example, this one by Don Herzog (I choose it more or less at random): There’s something endearingly toughminded, if that’s not an oxymoron, about libertarianism. At the same time, for the same reason, there’s something unbelievably…
A Thick and Thin PSA
If you use “thick libertarian” and “thin libertarian” to refer to individuals, you’re misunderstanding the terms. All libertarians are thin libertarians, and all libertarians are thick libertarians. Thin libertarianism is just the thin core that all libertarians agree on in so far as they’re libertarians, thick libertarianism is the additional beliefs that we add onto…
Dialectical Feminism: The Unknown Ideal
Robert Campbell invites us to consider feminists as falling into two groups. (It’s not clear whether the division is meant to be exhaustive.) One group, the “individualist feminists” or “libertarian feminists,” hold that “equality of rights is getting close to being consistently recognized in countries like the United States,” and that “further feminist efforts, in this part…
“Bartering” by Karl Hess
About 10 years ago, back in the days when I worked for Republican politicians battling Democratic Presidents, constant harassment by the Internal Revenue Service caused me to snap my twig and just stop paying taxes altogether. I won’t go into the tedious details, but I will note that I announced my decision to the I.R.S.…
Virtual Cantons: A New Path To Freedom?
The Problem of Structure What would the constitution of a free nation look like? In trying to answer that question we immediately think in terms of a Bill of Rights, restrictions on governmental power, and so forth. And any constitution worth having would certainly include those things. But if a constitution is to be more…
Finding The Brake
In his 1815 Principles of Politics, French liberal author Benjamin Constant defended the monarch’s “right to dissolve representative assemblies.” Constant’s position might seem surprising. Wasn’t securing the independence of parliaments from the royal will one of liberalism’s hard-won victories? His reasoning ran as follows. The “tendency of assemblies to multiply indefinitely the number of laws” is the inevitable…
Libertarian Class Analysis
Say the words “class analysis” or “class conflict” and most people will think of Karl Marx. The idea that there are irreconcilable classes, their conflict inherent in the nature of things, is one of the signatures of Marxism. That being the case, people who want nothing to do with Marxism quite naturally want nothing to…
Libertarian Property And Privatization: An Alternative Paradigm
Carlton Hobbs recently challenged the tendency of mainstream libertarians, free marketers and anarcho-capitalists to favor the capitalist corporation as the primary model of ownership and economic activity, and to assume that any future free market society will be organized on the pattern of corporate capitalism. As one alternative to such forms of organization, Hobbs proposed…
The Gospel Of Leisure
Professor David Levy of George Mason University has pointed out that when Thomas Carlyle labeled economics “the dismal science,” he wasn’t referring to the pessimistic conclusions drawn by Thomas Malthus. No, what Carlyle found dismal was that market-based societies entail free labor and rule out slavery, specifically black slavery. That depressed Carlyle. Perhaps slavery was gone in Britain…
Capitalism, Free Enterprise And Progress: Partners Or Adversaries?
Foundation The Industrial Revolution is typically regarded as a story of capitalism, free enterprise, and progress in technology and living standards. This paper attempts to disentangle the threads of capitalism, free enterprise, and progress, in the context of the Industrial Revolution, with a focus on Britain and the United States. It aims to bring some historical perspectives into…
Who’s The Scrooge? Libertarians And Compassion
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want…
Egoism And Anarchy
During the late 1880s, a fierce debate broke out in the pages of the libertarian periodical Liberty over egoistic versus natural-rights approaches to anarchism. (The various contributions to this debate will eventually be available in the Molinari Institute’s online library; in the meantime, for details see Frank H. Brooks’ The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (1881-1908) or Wendy McElroy’s The Debates of Liberty:…
Remembering Corporate Liberalism
The main plotline of the Star Wars prequel trilogy concerns an apparent conflict between the central government (the Senate) on the one hand and a coalition of mercantile interests (the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guild, etc.) on the other. As events unfold, however, it quickly becomes obvious to the audience (though much less quickly to the protagonists)…
Montaigne On Profit And Loss
Montaigne famously held that one person’s profit always involves another person’s loss, and this apothegm has won him some hostility from libertarians; see Mises, for example, here, here, and here. But I think Montaigne’s meaning has been misunderstood. When the claim is taken out of context, it is easy to assume, first, that Montaigne is attacking profit, and…
Property And Force: A Reply To Matt Bruenig
Last week’s TGIF, “One Moral Standard for All,” drew a curious response fromMatt Bruenig, a contributor to the Demos blog, Policy Shop. In reading his article, “Libertarians Are Huge Fans of Initiating Force,” one should bear in mind that the aim of my article was not to defend the libertarian philosophy, but to show that most people live…
One Moral Standard For All
Libertarians make a self-defeating mistake in assuming that their fundamental principles differ radically from most other people’s principles. Think how much easier it would be to bring others to the libertarian position if we realized that they already agree with us in substantial ways. What am I talking about? It’s quite simple. Libertarians believe that…
We Should Abandon The Term “Capitalism”
Advocating liberty means opposing the use of force to restrain peaceful, voluntary exchange. But it doesn’t have to mean calling a system of peaceful, voluntary exchange “capitalism.” Some people, of course, think this is obviously what “capitalism” means. And I can’t prove they’re wrong, because the word means different things to different people. I’m confident, though, that…
Four Questions for Amia Srinivasan
Amia Srinivasan has four questions for free-market moralists, specifically those who accept something like a Nozickian account of individual rights. My own take is more Rothbardian than Nozickian, but that still seems close enough to give her four answers, and to ask four questions in return about the assumptions that underlie her essay. Amia begins by asking: 1.…
What Economic Freedom Indexes Leave Out
In a syndicated column last October, television journalist John Stossel lamented the downgrading from sixth to eighth place—“behind Canada!”—of the United States on the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom. The Index is based on several metrics, including freedom of movement of capital, the degree of business regulation, and levels of taxes and spending.…
Taylorism, Progressivism, and Rule by Experts
The Progressive movement at the turn of the twentieth century—the doctrine from which the main current of modern liberalism developed—is sometimes erroneously viewed as an “anti-business” philosophy. It was anti-market to be sure, but by no means necessarily anti-business. Progressivism was, more than anything, managerialist. The American economy after the Civil War became increasingly dominated…