Category Archives: book

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 Friedman, 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

Review of Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

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In his book, Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, Simon Blackburn takes the reader on a semi-structured tour of various ethical topics. He tackles a variety of bad ideas that have made their way into the ethical arena and spends the majority of the book focused on putting them down. Blackburn mostly refrains, however, from developing or advocating any particular ethical theory.

Surprisingly, given the title, the book is not overly friendly to the uninitiated. The reader is often expected to already be familiar with major ideas, figures, and schools of thought in ethics and philosophy. While in the beginning Blackburn does do a good job explicitly motivating why ethical systems are important, by spending the bulk of the work on focused on flawed systems, the book might be discouraging to individuals looking for an ethical system to live by. Blackburn does drop a few hints at what he thinks a good ethic might look like, but sadly it seems to be some sort of democratic socialism.

The book is structured into three sections. The first Continue reading