Front Page Titles (by Subject) American Libertarians - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
American Libertarians - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
“Right Libertarianism,” in The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.
The dominant characteristic of “right libertarianism” is opposition to the power of the state. One can distinguish several different varieties of this type of political doctrine, of which individualist anarchism is the most extreme.
The emphasis on individualism in American Literature is noteworthy. For example, Emerson stressed the authority of the self over the state: “with the appearance of the wise man the State expires.” Individualism assumed a more egoistic form in the poetry of Whitman.
Thoreau gave individualism a distinctly political form in his well-known opposition to the paying of a poll-tax. Henry George developed a much more systematic version of individualist politics. His single-tax position,
if carried out, would mean that the state would have little to do beyond collecting the land tax and preserving order.
The most consistent version of right libertarianism was developed by Benjamin Tucker and the circle of writers around Liberty. Tucker's views express the interests of some small tradesmen and manufacturers. He assumed that no government was necessary. Disputes among individuals would be settled by private bargaining, and, if necessary, by boycotts, Tucker, as well as writers such as Lysander Spooner, emphasized the lack of consent of individuals to the state. Tucker's views developed out of his youthful experience of the New England reform tradition.
Economics and Public Policy
Economic theory and policies—whether sound or faulty—determine the health of a society and the chances of its material progress or decline. If sound economic insights fail to inform and “penetrate” political theory, a plague of social ills ensue. This is the recurrent and chilling lesson of economic history written in the suffering, frustrations, and catastrophes that characterize depressions, spiraling inflation, trade imbalances, energy shortages, and food or transportation disruptions. Economic science, far from being an abstract, ivory tower irrelevance, exercises a most practical influence—for good or evil—on our politics and individual lives. This vividly appears in the present set of summaries which investigate questions of inflation, depression, and monetary policy.
Since government economic intervention tends to create social, political, cultural, and financial dislocations, the second summary is of vital importance: why do citizens in democracies choose a policy of deficit financing with its calamitous inflationary consequences? The final summary sets forth, from such an unlikely source as Friedrich Engels, insights into the importance of competitive, free markets to allocate resources and guide production efficiently and humanely.