Defaming Herbert Spencer? A Reply to Edwin Black
On August 28th I wrote a column for LRC titled “Herbert Spencer: The Defamation Continues,” in which I criticized Edwin Black’s book War Against the Weak for its misrepresentation of the 19th-century classical liberal theorist Herbert Spencer. On October 11th I received the following bizarre note from Mr. Black: I have sent these to two others in your circle and I send it…
Herbert Spencer: The Defamation Continues
It has long been open season on Herbert Spencer (1820–1903). Perhaps because he was the 19th century’s most prominent defender of individual liberty and critic of the violence of the state, Spencer has always been the object of hatred and distortion; indeed, it sometimes seems that no accusation is too bizarre to be leveled against him. (George H. Smith has cited…
Too Awful To Read?
Probably no intellectual has suffered more distortion and abuse than Spencer. He is continually condemned for things he never said — indeed, he is taken to task for things he explicitly denied. The target of academic criticism is usually the mythical Spencer rather than the real Spencer; and although some critics may derive immense satisfaction…
The First Libertarian*
(*Actually, the first “dialectical” libertarian!) In his short review of The Political Philosophy of Herbert Spencer, Timothy Virkkala (May 1999) praises Tim S. Gray’s discussion of the great classical liberal’s methodology as a synthesis of “individualist” and “holist” approaches to social theory. But Virkkala remarks This method–I’m tempted to call it “dialectical,” but Spencer’s prose…
Patriotism
Were anyone to call me dishonest or untruthful he would touch me to the quick. Were he to say that I am unpatriotic, he would leave me unmoved. “What, then, have you no love of country?” That is a question not to be answered in a breath. The early abolition of serfdom in England, the…
The Right to Ignore the State
As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any…
Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist