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For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto
by Murray Newton Rothbard
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James W. Harris
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.
Rothbard also maps out a strategy for achieving liberty, delving into ethics, tactics, education, abolitionism vs. gradualism, historical antecedents, and other crucial but generally neglected points. For A New Liberty ends on an upbeat, inspiring note, as Rothbard explains why he believes liberty will ultimately triumph over the forces of statism and collectivism.
For A New Liberty gives the reader the invigorating feeling of contact with a truly original, razor-sharp mind. It's a seminal work, rich in insights and novel arguments. And it's written in a lively, vigorous style that makes most other political writing seem dreadfully dull and stodgy by comparison.
How important is For A New Liberty? Let's put it this way: every serious libertarian--indeed, anyone who is at all interested in libertarianism--must be familiar with this book. It is that essential. If a copy of For A New Liberty--preferably worn with wear from repeated readings--is not on your bookshelf, or your friends' bookshelves, remedy that grave omission now.
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