Libertarian Book Project

Friends of liberty, I humbly request your help!

I have decided to embark upon the exciting new challenge of writing a book on libertarianism, introducing the ideas of liberty and the errors of collectivism to a British audience through the medium of Austrian economics, conceptual explanation and historical illustration.

An extract from my proposed introduction reads:

The book’s approach is to take a topic of popular debate, make the case for freedom in that particular area before going on to address the most common objections. The format was inspired by my legal background and belief that it is only by overcoming objections in the popular mind can libertarians ever hope to affect real change in the political arena.

To set me on my way, I seek your collective wisdom in the matter of some important preliminary questions:

1. Who should the book be addressed to?

2. What topics most need addressing? (Money and banking is already high on the list!)

3. What should be left out?

These and other questions will be posed on Facebook all next week. Please take the time (if it can be spared) to visit the Libertarian Home Facebook page to vote and contribute suggestions. Questions about how to sell libertarianism in a book are also questions about how to sell libertarianism, so I hope you’ll find this discussion useful.

Should you wish to send me an e-mail, please do so at samswann@hotmail.com.

Thank you very much.

Sam

 

 

  17 comments for “Libertarian Book Project

  1. Paul Marks
    Oct 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Leave out defence and overseas policy.

    Otherwise the entire book will become dominated by it. As will all discussions.

  2. Paul Marks
    Oct 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    On the positive side….

    Attack, head on, the “perfect competition” (mis) conception of what a market is or should be. This false idea leads to “anti trust”, “competition policy” and general absurdity – forceing customers to accept lower quality and higher cost goods and services (or even destroying domestic producers entirely) in the name of what THE STATE thinks a “market” should be.

  3. Sam Swann
    Oct 16, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Thanks Paul.

    Later in the week there will be the opportunity to vote on around 15 topics for inclusion,, including both “the warfare state” and “the myth of natural monopoly”. The latter is a fascinating topic which I agree has gone unchallenged in the public mind for far too long (albeit not on these pages).

    Whilst the first topic might be a bit of an elephant in the room, would it not be rather a large omission to avoid any discussion at all of the connection between war, the growth of the state and the modern military-industrial complex?

    (If I do decide to tackle it, I will make my best efforts to deal with it as sensitively as possible to those libertarians, conservatives and neo-conservatives who might disagree with the stance taken)..

    • Paul Marks
      Oct 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      The “warfare state” makes little sense in a British context – where military spending is heading down towards 2% of GDP. Even in the context of the United States – military spending is heading down towards to 3% of GDP (although the expected collapse of GDP in 2013 and 2014 may artificially inflate military spending as a percentage of GDP – although not as a percentage of the budget).

      However, taking on the “anti trust”, “competition policy” nonsense is essential – as it can be (and is) used as excuse for government planning of any aspect of the economy.

      As for voting – not a good method of deciding what is in a book.

      Even if the voting is not Chicago like – which is often is.

  4. Sam Swann
    Oct 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    The “warfare state” may be receding in terms of the stats you quote, but the whole sorry mess of the UK and USA’s foreign interventionist adventures since 2000 is relevant to how we deal with conflicts and skirmishes in the future, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere.

    That said, whether its included or not will not be to the exclusion of competition policy et al, which I think you rightly identify as an essential element.

    Ultimately, the topics won’t be decided by the vote but I thought it’d be helpful to get people’s perspectives on what they thought the top priorities should be. For whilst I have been reading Austrian economics for years, I am fairly new to libertarian activism.

    Did you have any strong thoughts on where “money & banking” should sit on the hierarchy of needs?

  5. Paul Marks
    Oct 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

    My view of the overseas adventures is much the same as that of various servicemen I have listened to.

    “Why go thousands of miles, to fight people from Birmingham?”

    But do not waste your book on this matter – the policy is bankrupt (in more ways than one). Better to actually concentrate on aspects of statism that people support.

    Money and baking – according to the adverts for “Sky News” the government and the regulators are there to “protect us” and only if they fail do we have nasty things like the Great Depression of the 1930s – caused by wild speculators……

    With Sky News being as bad as this who needs the BBC?

    People actually do not know that monetary expansion (government backed monetary expansion) causeds boom-busts (they really do not know). They think (because they are constantly told) that they live under “capitalism” and that any problem is caused by “capitalism”. And that the solution is “more regulation” or “tougher regulators”.

    Unless it is explained that this is all utter tosh – then this thinking will lead us to the collapse of civil society and mass starvation.

    As will the effort to replace civil society (the family, churches, clubs, socieities…..) with the state – from “cradle to grave”.

  6. Richard Carey
    Oct 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I disagree. Foreign policy is important, as it helps distinguish the libertarian from the neo-con, and a great many people do not support these foreign wars.

    • Paul Marks
      Oct 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

      As I pointed out at the start of this thread – opening this door to this matter leads to any book (or article) being taken over by it (by the way – the obsession with overseas policy destroyed the Ron Paul campaign in the United States “ask him a question about farm subsidies, and he will reply about Afghanistan”).

      As for the specific claim (that the people support the overseas wars) it is simply not true. They support the military people (as do I) – they do not support sending them to their deaths for the Woodrow Wilson cause of spreading democracy. A very different conception from that of Edmund Burke, who Wilson FALSELY claimed to follow (Woodrow Wilson was really a follower of Richard Ely, Bismark and Hegal), that action against “armed doctrines” that seek world conquest is justified (justified on the grounds that self defence does not wait till the enemy is at the gates).

      The events of the terrible “Arab Spring”, particularly in Egypt, have discredited the neocon idea that spreading democracy to the Middle East would solve X, Y, Z, problems. And most people (both in Britain and the United States) never supported the spread democracy “nation building” concept in the first place.

      Howerver, there IS public support for things like banking regulation and the Welfare State – that is why these things need to be explained.

      • Richard Carey
        Oct 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        “As for the specific claim (that the people support the overseas wars) it is simply not true.”

        I never said this, I said the opposite.

        “Howerver, there IS public support for things like banking regulation and the Welfare State – that is why these things need to be explained.”

        IMO people are more likely to listen to such arguments if you have reassured them you are not a neo-con.

  7. Paul Marks
    Oct 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    As I feared, the overseas policy stuff is dominating the discussion.

    Most people in Britain have never even heard of the term “neocon” and do not know what one is.

    Just bringing up the subject is a mistake.

    I wish I had not written my first comment.

    • Richard Carey
      Oct 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      A book with one chapter on war, defence and foreign policy will not be dominated by it. A book that attempts to set out the libertarian political position with no reference to the above would be incomplete. But, hey, I’m not the one writing it.

      • sam swann
        Oct 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm

        I tend to agree with Richard here.

        The public does tend to think that anyone who advocates free markets, deregulation and smaller government are also in favour of an aggressive state foreign policy (at least in my experience). This misconception ought to be corrected, as a humble foreign policy is an integral component of the modern libertarian world view and does distinguish us from other sorts of conservatives.

        In any case, we are only talking about a single chapter here.

        It is much more likely that economics will dominate discussions – at the very least, there will be chapters on :

        1) Money & Banking
        2) The case for the free market in the public services
        3) Taxation
        4) The Myths of National Monopoly.

        So do rest assured Paul!

  8. Andrew
    Oct 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I’d suggest looking at pollution as the popular opinion seems to be that only the state can protect the environment.

  9. Sam Swann
    Oct 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks Andrew, great suggestion.

    The environment is certainly one of those issues that falls into the lexicon of great public delusions about the proper role for the state – together with the national minimum wage and the “public” services.

    My intention is to tackle the most controversial subjects head on so thanks for the input.

  10. Oct 20, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for your work! Check out the resources at the Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.LibertarianInternational.org

  11. Paul Marks
    Oct 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Private property is the least bad way of dealing with pollution (as it is most things). As M.J. Oakeshott was fond of pointing out – the Wensleydale judgement (denying the defence of private property against air or water pollution) was an outrage – it brought in “the public benefit” or “public good” or “general welfare” stuff into a court of law (where it has no place).

    What most be avoided is PHONY market stuff (using the concept of “price” – but with the state controlling things) – such as the Enron (and Obama and Bill Ayers when the looted the Woods Fund to set up the Chicago Climate Exchange scam – which Goldman Sachs and co later got involved in) “Carbon Trading”.

    As so often the Ecomomist magazine is a good reverse indicator – they are in favour of “carbon trading” (therefore it is a bad thing).

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