Category Archives: book

Review of For a Libertarian Communism

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For a Libertarian Communism is a collection of translations from the French communist writer Daniel Guerin. The title implies that the theory inside will include or at least make use of libertarianism, but this is not the case. Instead, Guerin has a slightly different flavor of communism that he is trying to sell.

Unfortunately, Guerin’s brand of communism is not novel enough that the average ancap needs to learn about it. Only those who are doing historical research are likely to benefit from reading this book. You can read the full text here.

Guerin says that, in pursuit of equality and liberty, the libertarian communist movement must resign itself to:

…imposing its will on the majority, first and preferentially through persuasion, and, if persuasion fails, by force.

Needless to say, the closest Guerin comes to libertarian ideas is Continue reading

Review of Seasteading by Joe Quirk

seasteadingJoe Quirk‘s book Seasteading is a valuable addition to your ancap library. It explores the potential of the ocean to solve some of the world’s greatest problems. While written for a mainstream audience, it has a solid anarcho-capitalist undertone, referencing Patri Friedman, Milton Friedman, and Bryan Caplan.

This book is also recommended for ancaps because of its purely capitalist approach to solving problems. In short: privatize the ocean and develop business models that make use of its enormous untapped resources.

It is often corny, wasting no opportunity to use terms like blue-topia, aqua-preneur, etc. However, the humor often hits the mark. For example, when Quirk talks about “politicians embracing their kinship with pondscum.”

The book is highly business oriented, discussing real people doing real work right now. It tells of some of the latest Continue reading

And Then There Were None by Eric Frank Russell

and_then_there_were_noneEric Frank Russell‘s novella “And Then There Were None” is a story ancaps are sure to find entertaining.

In the distant future when space travel is the norm, Earth sends a diplomatic spaceship to a planet that has been out of contact for 300 years. But they do not get the warm welcome they are expecting.

It can be read here, or found in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Click here for Goodreads. Read on for the rest of the review.

Spoilers below.

Continue reading

Review of What is Anarchism? by Donald Rooum

what_is_anarchismDonald Rooum’s What is Anarchism? is a mishmash of excerpts from a small range of anarchists combined with seemingly unrelated cartoons. The prose are equally incongruous, often relating irrelevant stories or showcasing parts of longer books and essays that are useless out of context.

Some of the chapters are worthwhile reads, and even the bad ones have the occasional gem that gets to the heart of anarchism. But the book as a whole is a confusing mess. There is no theoretical foundation, or common thread that binds the various parts together. Instead, it piles on every idea that has ever associated itself with anarchism, such that anyone who finishes reading the book is sure to wonder, “what is anarchism?”

Anarcho-capitalists may still find the book useful or entertaining, as they already know what anarchism is and are unlikely to be led astray. It could also be interesting to those ancaps who Continue reading

The Weapon Shop by A. E. van Vogt

the_weapon_shopA member of both the Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol. 1 and the Prometheus Award Hall of Fame, The Weapon Shop is short story that anarcho-capitalists will love.

Though it was published in 1942, the sci-fi aspects of the story have aged very well. More importantly, the libertarian themes continue to be strong and relevant, even though libertarianism itself has evolved over the same period from classical liberalism, to minarchism, to anarcho-capitalism.

You can read the short story here (epub, mobi), though the audible version is recommended if you like audio books.

Spoilers below.

Continue reading

Review of The Armchair Economist

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Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist

Steven Landsburg‘s The Armchair Economist is a book that anarcho-capitalists will appreciate for two reasons.

First, as an outreach tool it provides a solid introduction to economic ideas from a free market perspective. The concepts covered are simple enough for anyone to understand, but remarkable enough to spark interest in economics and the dangers of government. With fun examples and amusing anecdotes, it will help find those who are curious, open-minded, and almost ready for more earth-shattering works by anarcho-capitalists.

Second, the book comes from a mainstream free-market perspective that will not only force ancaps to hone their thinking, but also teach them a few tricks that are not found in the works of Austrian School economists. Most ancaps will pick up new arguments for freedom that will resonate with regular people, and learn interesting points about economic history that they may not have been exposed to. Continue reading

Review of Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

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Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do by Michael J. Sandel

Michael J. Sandel‘s book Justice, is a worthwhile read for anarcho-capitalists who have already read the greats in their own tradition: Murray Rothbard, David D. Friedman, Hans Hoppe, etc., and are ready to hone their thinking by exploring some different viewpoints. Sandel’s book is especially good for this purpose because he tries to find a theory of justice by contrasting three different perspectives: libertarianism, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics. Not only does libertarianism feature prominently in the book, it is portrayed in a reasonable way.

Sandel also makes good use of both hypotheticals and real-life examples to explore the idea of justice. Familiar ones like the Trolley Problem get a standard treatment, but less common examples like invitro fertilization and surrogacy are also explored. The real world problems are taken from present day as well as centuries ago when, for example, people who were drafted into the military could hire someone to take their place. These analyses are deep enough to be interesting, but do not drag on so long that they become a waste of time.

Although Sandel’s approach is good, he ends up with a rather confused notion of justice. This is partially due to the fact that he conflates ethics with morality. He is not simply trying to define justice as a core ethical concept, but also bolt on moral ideas about how a person should live their life. This leads him to choose virtue ethics from the three options he explores. Thus the ideas of honor and living a good life get mixed up with his view of justice, when a more focused approach would have served better.

So what is justice? Continue reading

Review of The New Right by Michael Malice

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The New Right by Michael Malice

The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics  looks at the recent evolution of political discourse in America from the unclouded perspective of celebrated anarcho-capitalist Michael Malice. Specifically, Malice traces the origins of anti-progressive ideas and organizations from the various 20th century intellectuals who instigated them and the 21st century activists who made them into a force to be reckoned with. Though the topics are serious, Malice uses his irreverent and jolting style to beat humor out of them like candy from a piñata.

Malice opens The New Right with a devastating quote by Murray Rothbard and only waits until the second page to break it to the reader that he is an anarchist and this is not going to be a typical book about politics. Instead, he lays out his definition of the New Right and begins an unwavering survey of the key people and ideas, saying that they are:

A loosely connected group of individuals united by their opposition to progressivism, which they perceive to be a thinly veiled fundamentalist religion dedicated to egalitarian principles and intent on totalitarian world domination via globalist hegemony.

Malice is fair, but not always kind, to current members of the New Right, including Mencius Moldbug, Mike Cernovich, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Anne Coulter, Jared Taylor, Chris Cantwell, and others. Malice never hesitates to point out the flaws in any person’s perspective, but he also makes sure to credit the reasonable ideas therein.

Especially interesting to ancaps is the origin story of the New Right. Malice traces the history of the movement back to Murray Rothbard and Pat Buchanan: Continue reading

Review of Liberty: A Path to its Recovery

liberty_aptirF. A. Harper’s book Liberty: A Path to its Recovery is an attempt to define liberty and a call to reverse the growth of government. Published in 1949, the evils of the state that Harper refers to may seem quaint compared to the economic havoc wreaked by modern governments, but the general principles still apply.

Harper says that, “Liberty exists when a person is free to do whatever he desires, according to his wisdom and conscience.” This is a good definition for freedom, which is often conflated with liberty. Actually, Harper’s discussion of liberty is much more instructive than his actual definition, as he digs into the fact that liberty is related to how people interact and that people who live in solitude have complete liberty:

“If he is prohibited from doing this, by another person or by any combination of persons who are not direct parties to the deal, his liberty is thereby transgressed. And further, it makes no difference, so far as liberty is concerned, under what name the act of prohibition is paraded; or whether it is by a corporation, a cooperative, a labor union, a trade union, the government, or what not.”

Despite the flavor of anarchy in the above quote, Harper explicitly calls for limited government. He simply assumes that limited government produces the “optimal” level of liberty without Continue reading

Review of Libertarian Quandaries

libertarian_quandriesJakub Wisniewski‘s book Libertarian Quandries is a thoughtful and accurate account of the libertarian ethical system. Though the language is a bit academic at times, the chapters are short and pithy. This makes the book an excellent choice for those who are familiar with libertarianism and want to take their understanding and arguments to the next level.

Wisniewski addresses a wide range of objections to libertarianism, be they economic, ethical, or simply a question of what is practical. Similarly, he mounts a calm but relentless attack on arguments in favor of government. Ancaps will appreciate his consistent anarchist message, while libertarians who are still holding on the idea of limited government will find some interesting food for thought.

That said, there are a few things that call for clarification: Continue reading