For a New Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

General Description
I couldn’t find a good summary, so I actually have to write one myself. This book is, as near I can tell based on my limited introduction to libertarianism, the manifesto of libertarianism. That is, if you’re not sure what constitute libertarian principles, or what a libertarian would think about a certain issue, then this is where to start. Rothbard takes you through one issue at a time, explaining in easily understandable terms the libertarian position on that issue. You’ll learn about the non-aggression axiom, how man can live with very limited government, and how private property rights and free markets can provide us with everything we need, including roads, fire departments, and police protection.

Why the President Should Read This Book
Some might call For a New Liberty a Utopian pipe dream, and those who subscribe to the ideals described therein as naive fools. But what is more naive, to believe that most people are good and that individuals working with individuals can largely fend for themselves, or that an organization with massive power can resist the corrupting influence of that power and centrally orchestrate the millions of daily decisions that would otherwise be made by individuals in such a way that individuals are benefited more than if they were left to their own devices? Incorporating the principles of this book into the real world may be difficult, but for those who read the book, that is something worth fighting for. Those who would be President would do well to read it, because those whose votes they would court will be hard-pressed to go to anyone who hasn’t.

Notes
You can read, download a PDF, or download mp3 files of For a New Liberty at Mises.org for free.

Personal Notes
I have many books yet to read, but of all the books I’ve read on politics, economics, freedom, etc., other than holy writ, there is no book I can recommend more highly than this one. If that ever changes, I’ll put another note here to that effect.

  • Dad

    I would like to read a book (or your review of a book) on Libertarianism and the U.S. Constitution. How agreeable are they?

  • Joshua Steimle

    As near I can tell, there are different grades of libertarians. There are the “limited government libertarians” or “pragmatic libertarians” who advocate a smaller government and moving in the direction of libertarian ideals, and then there are the anarcho-capitalist libertarians who believe the ideal is to not have any government at all (anarchy), and that the Constitution grants too much power to a central organization.

    I tend to fall into the camp of “All this libertarian stuff is great, but what can we realistically accomplish with what we’ve got?”

    I’m not sure if there’s a book that directly addresses the Constitution and libertarianism, but if I read one I’ll let you know. For the time being, I highly recommend this book, more than any other on this website so far.

  • Linda

    High praise. I will have to read it.
    What about faith and a positive attitude? You may want to reconsider “what we’ve got”: eternal principles and whose side we’re on.
    What if our forefathers asked the same? i.e. “what can we realistically accomplish?”

  • Joshua Steimle

    Hi Linda, to clarify, when I said “what we’ve got” I meant the mess we’ve got in Washington DC + the will of the people. For example, I believe the Federal Reserve system is enemy #1 when it comes to getting the US on the right track, but abolishing it would require some wrangling in DC, and if the will of the people doesn’t demand its demise, then even if one were capable of abolishing it, it would just be a short matter of time before we had Federal Reserve II.

    My point is that we’ve got the current situation, and we have our ideals. We may reach our ideals some day, but what can be done today? What can be done in the next two years, four, eight, etc.? If we try to reach all our ideals in one day, it won’t happen, therefore it’s necessary to prioritize and then come up with plans based on what is most important, and what is feasible, while never losing focus on the ultimate goal.

    I think a good example of the Founders acting based what was realistically possible is the issue of slavery. Although many of them wanted to abolish it entirely, they realized that if they pushed for that goal then the Constitution and creation of the United States would fail. But they knew that if they established the United States, that slavery would ultimately be abolished (although they probably didn’t anticipate that over a million lives would be wiped out in the process).