Rarely do advocates of freedom have the pleasure of hearing freedom criticized. Typically, they must listen to debates in which one side serves up a badly mixed hash of assertions that is labeled "freedom"—while the other side denounces the hash for features having nothing to do with human liberty. For this reason, libertarians had good cause to welcome the appearance early in 1997 of several books setting forth relatively pure versions of the classical liberal credo. Not only were the works instructive in themselves, but they called forth instructive responses from the media. The books in question were: What It Means to Be a Libertarian by Charles Murray, best known as the author of Losing Ground and as co-author (with the late Richard Herrnstein) of The Bell Curve; Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute and The Libertarian Reader, a collection of essays edited by Boaz. (Boaz's Primer was reviewed by Robert Bidinotto in the April 1997 issue of the IOS Journal.) With the nearly simultaneous appearance of these works, a large number of newspapers and magazines felt impelled to contemplate liberty and libertarianism. What follows is a survey of the major arguments these reviewers and writers lodged against a free society, or against libertarianism as a political philosophy and movement. As arranged below, the arguments recapitulate the succession of statist arguments in...
Navigator: In your "State of the Culture" talk, you said that it is the ideas of a society's culture which determine the other aspects of that society. Could you describe the main line by which ideas have determined the society America has today?
I thank Bob Bidinotto for his many generous remarks about Libertarianism: A Primer, and I congratulate Bidinotto and the Institute for Objectivist Studies for their continuing commitment to a constructive dialogue between Objectivists and those libertarians who are not Objectivists. I might begin by noting that the very notion of a conflict “between libertarians and Objectivists” is flawed, as it seems to me that all Objectivists are necessarily libertarians, though not all libertarians are Objectivists. That is, anyone who believes in individual rights, free enterprise, and strictly limited government—and I assume that includes all Objectivists—is a libertarian. An Objectivist libertarian might well not belong to any particular party and might part company with some other libertarians on a wide range of philosophical and other issues, but at the level of political philosophy Objectivists are libertarians. And that gets us the crux of our disagreement. Should all libertarians be Objectivists? Or, put another way, must libertarianism rest on the Objectivist philosophical system? I believe that libertarianism, as a political movement and a political philosophy, is a sort of coalition. Libertarianism is compatible with a wide variety of...
BOOK REVIEW: Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, by George Reisman. (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996. 1046 pp.)
Description: Religions posit a supernatural realm involving either an impersonal force or a personal god, with many combinations. The earliest forms of primitive religion involved ten common institutions. 


Donate to The Atlas Society

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please consider making a donation. Our digital channels garner over 1 million views per year. Your contribution will help us to achieve and maintain this impact.

× Close Window
Anthem Slider

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive the most recent news and articles directly to your inbox.