review of the Anarchist Handbook

Michael Malice‘s book The Anarchist Handbook is a collection of essays from anarchists of many varieties, each introduced by the author. Ancaps looking at the rest of the present-day anarchist movement might conclude that there is nothing to learn. However, it is instructive to see how close the idols of other anarchist philosophies came to libertarianism, and how their errors led to things like anarcho-socialism, anarcho-communism, and the like.

Malice, of course, includes some of the best essays in anarchist thought. Featured are Lysander Spooner‘s “No Treason #6“, an excerpt from David Friedman‘s “The Machinery of Freedom“, and the entirety of Murray Rothbard‘s “The Anatomy of the State“.

Even if you have already read most or all of the included essays, Malice’s commentary makes the book an engaging refresher. And for those ancaps who have not read them, there are many fun and fascinating perspectives waiting. Either way, ancaps can read it for breadth in anarchism and a little historical perspective on the movement.

The book probably could do without Max Stirner’s chapter, whose confused essay might turn off less determined readers and exacerbate the madman caricature of anarchists.

On the positive side, Benjamin Tucker‘s essay explains how it was Adam Smith‘s labor theory of value that became the false premise of Marxism, and other types of collectivism. Leo Tolstoy gives a nice explanation of how government is incentivized to create international conflict. Voltairine de Cleyre explains why limited government is a fool’s errand. John Hasnas gives a nice analysis of how law has developed, and might develop in the future.

For a little more on the broad appeal of anarchism, see Michael Malice in this video:

A broad tasting of anarchist thought. Five Murrays.

Murray Rothbard
5 out of 5


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