Vol. IX.
<No. 24.>


“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!

Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;

And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”

John Hay.

Problems of Anarchism.


6. — Liberty and Its Law.

In tracing the comparative economic effects of capitalism my purpose was to bring out the fact that the conditions favorable to the growth of individual liberty have unmistakably improved. And as every phase of progress, including moral, religious, and political freedom, is dependent on economic conditions, the ideas and aspirations expanding in proportion to the opportunity for growth which these conditions afford, it requires but to bring together and sum up the results of our inquiry in order to see that they converge toward the same result.

Setting out with the axiomatic principle that free individual development is a primary need of man, we saw that his progress in the social state has been from the negation of freedom toward individual liberty in all its aspects, — that in this path ever more surely moves the trend of civilization.

Then, after tracing the lines of economic development prior to modern times, we came to the question as to whether liberty had advanced commensurately with industrial progress. The general recognition of existing evils was pointed out, and also the universal disagreement as to their cause.

Next was discussed the relation between political authority and personal freedom, the origin and growth of the former shown, its persistent character under different forms brought out, and throughout all the widening of the principle of liberty notwithstanding the prevalent confusion of ideas upon the subject.

After which the nature of individualism was ethically considered preparatory to the question of how far and in what way capitalism has evolved the conditions which give individual liberty fuller opportunity of development. We have already seen that ideas grow in accordance with the extension of opportunities for their fulfilment. Hence it becomes clear that modern economic conditions are those in which liberty has advanced, in theory and in fact, by reason of the wider scope and freer field they afford it. Such I claim to be the effects of the capitalist system. Let us demonstrate this point more plainly. Where this system has grown to the greatest extent is where progress and liberty have made the biggest strides. And where it is least developed or has not yet arisen is just where they are most backward.

According to Herbert Spencer, liberty increases with the growth of industrialism, which brings pence and progress. The point I wish to establish is quite different. I believe that this theory can be proved only of that form of industrialism which is modern capitalism. In England and the United States today we see the latter in its most evolved form. But alongside of it we also observe individual liberty in its highest state. On the other hand, we find in Russia that capitalism is as yet in its most elementary phase, that industrialism has not yet left the stage of communal or non-capitalistic agriculture, The position of liberty and progress there it is needless to mention. Now if between these extremes we range civilized nations classified in relation to the development in each of the capitalist system of industry, we shall find that the advance of liberty is directly proportional to the stage of economic progress.

The extraordinary civilization of ancient Peru rested on a most perfect system, according to some modern Socialist ideals, of differentiated industrialism. It was, however, non-capitalistic. Supply and demand did not operate and money was not required. Paternalism reached a point scarcely to be paralleled even in a utopian romance. Individualism had no place in that system. But with the absence of capitalism there was also the absence of all liberty. Personal freedom and progress there were none. Civilization stood still.

China today shows us another stagnant civilization. Industrialism there was in a forward stage before any existing European nation had emerged from savagery. But it stopped short before it evolved as high as the economic state of modern capitalism and has remained there ever since. Here again have we industrialism, but not liberty.

The view I wish to emphasize is more special in its application than Spencer’s theory upon the relations between militancy and industrialism as social types, which is a broad generalization. But my position is in no way opposed to it, though I believe the considerations which I have pointed out show cause for restricting the application of that theory.

I will now put the result of this discussion into a formula which will render it both clearer and more useful.

The modern capitalist system is the only industrial type which has established the predominance of industrialism — man’s economic activities — over all other factors in society.

This formula explains why liberty in all directions has followed the growth of capitalism; because personal freedom, the prime condition to individualism, is indispensable to the development of that voluntary co-operation and unconscious mutual aid characteristic of man’s industrial activity, and especially arising out of the latest economic forms. The bourgeois struggles against aristocracy and autocracy, against military and religious domination, of which Socialistic and other historians say so much and understand so little, now become perfectly clear in their origin and ultimate effects. The classes profiting most directly by the rise of capitalism were first to feel the need for economic freedom, which, being the basis of freedom in all other aspects, led to the struggle for and acquirement of man’s rights in general, and lastly to the assertion of individual sovereignty as the complete formula of social justice.

The study of natural phenomena in the light of Evolution leading to the investigation of Man in relation to life in general, — to the scientific study of all the forces, internal and external, by which he is conditioned and in accordance with which he exists, develops, and continues to achieve a larger and larger amount of satisfaction out of life, both for each individual and for the race, — this method has disclosed an order or continuity in the phenomena which our reason is able to sift and classify, and from the seeming chaos we can formulate principles which, guide us both in comprehending the nature of things and in further extending our knowledge. More than this, such formulated experience helps man to understand his own nature and further his welfare, and guides him in his social relations.

Principles thus established we term scientific laws. They are simply descriptions, easily intelligible to the intellect, of the sequences and relations which observation makes known to us. This explanation I trust will at once make clear just what is conveyed by the phrases natural law and scientific formula and indicate precisely passed. It should not be permitted longer to disgrace their value.

According to the above method and in the sense just indicated has the law of equal freedom been laid down. When Herbert Spencer defines Justice to mean the liberty of each limited only by the like liberties of all and expresses it in the formula known as the law of equal freedom: “Every man is free to do that which he wills,” qualified thus, “provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man,” we are not, I apprehend, expected to find a new doctrine, but that the facts of evolution scientifically and philosophically interpreted justify us in accepting this brief description (law) as a necessary condition of social growth. Hence to observe it is to be guided by natural law.

The same principle, it is needless to remark, has often been laid down by apostles of liberty and other advanced thinkers, both from intuitive reasoning and empirical generalizations, but it has been left to the builders of scientific evolution to give it the force it now commands when established as a scientific demonstration.

Our inquiry up to this point has been to exhibit the tendency of civilization, and especially in its relation to economic development, as a movement toward individual liberty. It needed but the above conclusion from the philosophy of evolution to complete this part of the work. In the light thus obtained we can go on with the inquiry in the belief that we shall be the more able to unravel the difficulties and overcome the obstacles which so thickly bestrew our path. Wm. Bailie.

Democratic Sincerity.

[New York Nation.]

The Legislature of North Carolina has gone to work to pass a law for the issue of State bank-notes as though Congress had already repealed the ten per cent. tax. The idea has got abroad, especially in the South, that the next Congress will repeal the tax, and hence that it is only necessary to pass some kind of a law to regulate such issues, in order to be ready when the door is thrown open. There is no very good reason for supposing that Congress will repeal that tax. There is still less reason for supposing that Congress will repeal it unconditionally. Although the Democratic national platform contains a plank in favor of the repeal, it was not a real issue in the campaign except in a few places, and in these it did the party more harm than good, since it introduced a new subject for discussion and put the Democratic speakers and newspapers on the defensive. It is safe to say that Congress will not pass any bill to repeal the ten per cent. tax until it has a pretty clear idea of the probable consequences, and it is equally safe to predict that the President-elect will not sign any such bill without absolute assurance against the kind of wild-catting and red-dogging that was rife before the war.

The Law Denounced from the Bench.

[New York Sun.]

Pittsburgh, Jan. 21. — Two hundred and fifty-two oleomargarine dealers were each sentenced in the Criminal Court here this morning to pay $100 fine and costs, a total of more than $25,000. Judge Stowe, in passing sentence, said:

“This law has been in force eight years, and only three years ago the United States Supreme Court affirmed its constitutionality. Since it is on our statute book, it must be lived up to, but I will say that I think it an outrageous law, and it should never have been the State, and the people should see that it is annulled.”

“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.

The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.

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“Solidarity’s” Sins Against Reason.

“Solidarity” has an article in which it attempts to wind up the controversy with Liberty. It may not be amiss to animadvert upon the principal points of the writer.

The beginning is far from auspicious. As long, we are told, as we demanded the abolition of government, law, police, taxation, and political machinery, we were entitled to call ourselves Anarchists. Now, however, that it appears that we merely propose to substitute “voluntary government” for compulsory government, voluntary taxation for compulsory taxation, and so forth, we have no claim on the title Anarchists, though we may properly denominate ourselves Individualists. Such a beginning, I say, is not encouraging, the extreme superficiality of the observation showing that the writer deals with words simply, and does not concern himself about the idea behind the words. Were we Anarchists because we expressed detestation of the words police, government, etc., or because of the general principle which we sought to convey by means of words? Will “Solidarity” make a mental effort and try to grasp the fact that we oppose government, law, police, etc., solely on the ground that they are inconsistent with equal freedom, which is the sum and substance of Anarchism? Such an effort, if successful, would enable it to draw the obvious corollary that we do not cease to be Anarchists when we declare for “voluntary government,” which means co-operation for defence against aggressors, and voluntary taxation, which means contributions to defray the cost of such protective institutions. How can it be inconsistent for those who desire equal freedom to recognize any institution or thing which is perfectly consonant with equal freedom, — which, indeed, may be needed as a means of maintaining equal freedom? A “law” which denies equal freedom is not to be approved, and an agency for the enforcement of such a “law” is not to be sustained or supported, in accordance with a right definition of Anarchism. But when this is said, all is said. The rest is chimera, confusion, and nonsense.

“Spencer,” continues “Solidarity,” “is certainly not an Anarchist; Auberon Herbert, who maintains — and quite logically from the Individualistic standpoint — that private property is an essential derivation of [derivative from?] liberty, does not call himself an Anarchist. And we fail to see in what important respect the actual views of Yarros and Tucker differ from those of Auberon Herbert and Spencer.” Naturally enough, you “fail to see,” not knowing what Anarchism is. Spencer is “certainly not an Anarchist,” because he does not accept the principle of equal freedom unreservedly and unqualifiedly. He believes in coercion of non-invasive individuals to the extent necessitated by the maintenance of a government for protection against other trespassers than itself. In other words, Spencer favors compulsory taxation and compulsory military service, and therefore is not an Anarchist. As to Auberon Herbert, the question of what he calls himself is irrelevant. He is an Anarchist, although he is not altogether logical in the deductions he draws from the general principle he professes. Parenthetically, a self-contradiction on the part of “Solidarity” may be noted. In saying that Herbert is logical in maintaining, from the Individualistic standpoint, that private property is an essential derivative from liberty, it implies that the same conclusion could not logically be drawn from the Anarchistic postulate, — that, in other words, Anarchism involves a denial of private property. Yet in the opening sentence of its article “Solidarity” distinctly intimates that those who demand the abolition of government, law, police, taxation, and political machinery, are entitled to call themselves Anarchists. Here no declaration of private property is required to qualify one for Anarchism.

“Liberty, we have said, is no solution. Individual liberty, free will, is a metaphysical conception which modern science has discarded, man being the creature of circumstances.” After such a sentence, we really must excuse “Solidarity” from further trouble on behalf of “modern science.” What has “free will” to do with liberty? Is the attempt to use the former as a synonym of the latter a manifestation of stupidity, or of something less pardonable? If liberty is a metaphysical conception, then why are those who demand the abolition of government and law and taxation Anarchists? To demand the abolition of these is to demand individual liberty; and if liberty has been discarded by science, Anarchism has been discarded by science. “Solidarity” claims that it alone represents genuine Anarchism; the implication is that it alone represents, in its purity, a metaphysical conception discarded by science. Towards the end of its article “Solidarity” remarks that “nobody disputes” that “the liberty of the individuals must be allowed as free scope as possible.” What? Allow the individual as much as possible of a metaphysical conception discarded by modern science? Poor “Solidarity”! Its state of mind beggars description.

“The Individualist’s only standard of conduct is absence of coercion. Provided an individual consents to do something, that thing is right.” The expression here is decidedly imperfect, but the meaning is plain enough; and the statement may be admitted as correct, not indeed with reference to Individualists, who are not at all satisfied with mere absence of coercion, but with reference to Anarchists. “Now a man’s consent may be got by indirect coercion.” Consent to what? Consent to deprivation of rights and freedoms? Then why do not governments and private aggressors resort very generally to indirect coercion? “Solidarity” should not be quite so reckless in question-begging. We contend that indirect coercion will never answer the designs of invaders, official or unofficial. “Auberon Herbert says indirect coercion is unavoidable and therefore legitimate. ‘Acquiescence on the part of the victim takes out the character of offence’ from the capitalistic exploitation.” Certainly; if the workmen are pleased to part with surplus value in favor of the capitalists, no wrong is done; they are no longer any victims. But do they acquiesce? And, whether they do or not, we do not; hence the capitalistic system, based on direct coercion so far at least as we are concerned, is invested with the character of offence. “He who uses direct force to combat indirect force indefinitely delays the development of those moral influences to which we can alone look as the solvent of that temper that makes men use hardly the indirect power resting in their hands.’ Fine talk, which proves [what?] as well against indirect as against direct force. The consequence would be to strengthen indirect force by our forbearing to use that kind of force (direct) which alone may be opposed to it.” Question-begging again. Not only is it not true that direct force alone “may [can successfully?] be opposed” to indirect force, but the principal point is that indirect force is legitimate, while direct force is never legitimate when applied to the non-aggressive. “Solidarity’s” progress in imbecility is truly extraordinary.

“Men,” philosophizes “Solidarity,” “are social beings, live a social life, and must needs organize their social relations for the common advantage, or else some will be victims of others.” The bearing of these wise remarks lies in their application. Does it follow that private property and free competition must be ruthlessly suppressed? “Solidarity” quotes certain remarks of Spencer’s on the relation between individual and social welfare, and supplements them as follows: “He might have added [as if he hadn’t!] that whatever increases their happiness concerns him, for he actually suffers from the sight of their misery, and shares in their enjoyments. The life of the individual is made of numberless influences from the surrounding joys and sorrows, knowledges and prejudices, accumulated wealth, habits and feelings.” The sentiment is beautiful, but what in the world has compulsory communism to do with it? “How these principles may be reconciliated [reconciled?] with the ‘atomistic’ view taken of society by the individualists is a puzzle to us.” It is a puzzle to us how “Solidarity” has persuaded itself that we take an “atomistic” view of society. Or rather, it is no puzzle at all. Not enjoying any knowledge of our real view of society, “Solidarity” à priori imputes to us a view which it thinks objectionable enough to harmonize with the rest of its misconceptions of our position. Having already entreated “Solidarity” to make one mental effort, I cannot now urge it to make another and try to comprehend our view of society. Not satisfied with Spencer, “Solidarity” presses another authority into service. “Coöperation (says Metchnikoff) is the main feature of social life. If, in the province of biology, the more or less individualized beings, from cell to man, struggle for life or for some egoistic or personal aim, in the province of sociology, on the contrary, they unite their efforts for a common interest.” Bravo! We hope they will grow wiser as time passes and learn to coöperate more and more; in fact, we are convinced that they will do so. But what, again, has all this to do with the denial of all freedom and the violation of the fundamental conditions of social coöperation? “Solidarity” argues against its own position. No compulsion is necessary to induce men to unite their efforts for a common interest. Men must have liberty to coöperate when coöperation is advantageous, and liberty to decline direct coöperation (indirect coöperation is inseparable from civilization) when pulling apart seems more expedient. The sociology of “Communistic Anarchism” is miserable enough; the bad biology and wretched psychology which “Solidarity” can call to its support had better not be raked up. As for modern science, the less “Solidarity” says of it, the better for its cause.

I have only dealt with “Solidarity’s” ethics and politics. As to its political economy, I may have occasion to refer to it, and I may not. V. Y.

The Devils’ Kingdom.

That sanguine worshipper of the majority, J. W. Sullivan, concludes an article, maintaining that the people are in advance of the laws and that the Referendum would abolish capital punishment, with these words: “I believe that when the people are the lawgivers, they will heed the injunction of humanity: ‘Thou shalt not kill’.” The words had hardly flowed from his pen when a Texas mob, composed of all classes and thoroughly representative of a modern civilized community, burned a negro at the stake, prefacing their bonfire with systematic torture which for fiendish ingenuity was never surpassed by any government that ever existed. If this negro is now in hell, he probably fails to see the difference between the flames that enwrap him by order of His Satanic Majesty, monarch by divine right, and those that were lit about his feet on earth by the Direct Government of the People, who, becoming for the moment lawgivers through Initiative, and heeding presumably the injunction of humanity, had previously bored his eyes out with red-hot irons. I lately had occasion to say, criticising the Referendum, in an article entitled “The Fools’ Kingdom,” that there is no such fool as the average man. Recent events justify me in declaring further that there is no such devil as the average man. And Frank Foster, if he chooses, may take this as another “delicate implication” that the editor of Liberty “does by no means consider himself as an average man.” T.

It is pleasant to be able to announce that “Egoism” has resumed regular publication. It is a four-page fortnightly at fifty cents a year. Address: Box 366, Oakland, California.

Candor compels me to admit that the Democrats did better in the vote in the Senate on the anti-option bill than I expected them to. True, the division did not take place on party lines by any means; nevertheless the proportion of Republicans who voted for the paternalistic measure was much larger than the proportion of Democrats. I had looked for the reverse of this; not, of course, that I thought the Republicans less paternalistic than the Democrats, but that I supposed them less willing to interfere with gambling on the stock exchange. If the measure had been directed against gambling in the pool rooms, then I should have expected the Democrats to oppose interference. If an anti-option bill should come before the new congress, the vote would probably differ somewhat front the vote just taken. In that body there will be many Democrats from the West, and, as section rather than party seems now to determine political opinions, many of these new members will bow to the Western demand for paternalism.

Free Trade and Brotherhood.*

Although, in the traditions of the “Post,” I have had a Foote on me, I do not feel in the least hurt. And I ought to say why I think that Foote can do no great service towards the rescue of “American Ethics,” as reverenced by the editor, from its hopeless sepulture.

It is apparent that Mr. Foote, like his coadjutor, misses the main point in dispute. If I could get the editor to admit that he is simply talking politics, I would feel that he was consistent if not glorious. But as he persists in calling his politics ethics, and then declines to submit his ethical code to the only tribunal which has the authority to pass judgment upon it, I am brought to a realization of his illogicality and have no qualms about destroying his rope of sand.

Perhaps Mr. Foote is less subject to this criticism than the editor. After all, he avoids the assertion of a doctrine of which his colaborer has made so much. And yet his very discussion of the problem with this avoidance so evident opens him to my question and my charges.

What I have desired from the first has been to learn bow ethics, “American” or other, could be turned into a sword of evil intent or of destruction. I have asked to be informed why I should ethically and humanly be less concerned for the welfare of Podge while he lives in Europe than of Podge after he boards ship and crosses the sea and takes out his papers here. I have wondered by what parsimony of reasoning American “ethics” could dismiss the earliest principles and instincts of honesty and humanity. The editor thinks this “moonshine.” Meanwhile, he has not answered my questions.

You all talk of the “destiny” and “purpose” of America. America’s habit must be to be decent. America’s destiny must be to achieve such status as decency will encourage and assure. Violate decency, and what is your destiny worth? The fate of a nation is complicated with its moral growth and achievement. No success can arive but on this train of procedure. A nation needs to be careful of its morals. It rises or falls as it answers the pulsations of right or wrong. The law that operates for or against the individual plays an equal part in the career of a nation. It may prove that, while your goods are protected, your morals are defenceless. If honesty is charged upon you; if it is your part to accept a moral code at all, — by what reasoning does your faith pause at the sea’s-edge? The big men is prodigal of his power. He gives, he welcomes, he absorbs, he declines no competitions. The big nation leads. The big nation is no laggard. The big nation does not drag at the heels of virtue. It becomes virtuous. It fills the cup again and again, and resents no guest. Brotherhood allows no diminution in the measure of its love. It tells no tale of a “destiny” built on separation and destruction. Before all else it sets universality, solidarity.

Now, what I ask from the “Post” is an answer to such questions. If the editor lives next door and thinks his life’s-end achieved when by subterfuges and tyrannies practised upon me he luxuriates in prosperity while I starve, then I say that, while he may be “wise” after the average notion of his time or his community, he has no call for self-congratulation over the quality of his ethics. Until these preliminary considerations are disposed of, all else must stand aside. Bring in whatever “practical” workers you may, it is not possible to go intelligently about the labor even of government as long as the “dreamer” has not divulged his dream.

An “American” ethical code which erects “American” right above human right is both curious and cruel. The protectionist will often argue the question as if it merely concerned him, or one party to an international transaction. I claim that there is another party to the experience, the principle, the result. That other party, save for the accident of birth, is humanly and ethically as near to us as are neighbors and kindred. If you say that we are not supposed to have any concern for the alien, — that always and at whatever cost the family must be attended to, — then I say you have closed the door on your ethics and given the household over to expediency. And there are, besides, prior claims of liberty to be accounted for. Privilege destroys the individual. No society could long exist where special classes enjoyed special grants created by the general labor. All obstructions to free intercourse, whether between individuals or nations, are bad. Restriction always sets injustice somewhere. Somebody reaps a harvest of thorns. Somebody starves, somebody is denied. America cannot really prosper, however she appear to prosper, if Bohemia must starve for her. Reasoners attach a fallacious importance to “destiny” when they imagine that “destiny” pushes aside means for ends. Those who expect to pluck triumph out of the supremacy of injustice have little conception of that law of social life which decrees death for any civilization which disregards the virtues.

Mr. Foote speaks of “natural” protection. It may be “natural” for some men to wish to curtail the righteous opportunities of other men. It may be “natural” for those other men to be jealous of their rights and duties. Each side may have its argument. But in the end the only “natural” course is that which freedom opens. Hands off. Let the individual alone. As long as he respects the autonomy of other individuals, do not interrupt the sacred privacy he enjoys. The individual is primate. He is self-arbiter. “Protected” at another’s expense, he is not protected at all. Harassed by insidious laws; refused the exercise of international hospitality; not allowed to wander earth over, recognizing everywhere the same human nature, entitled to the same hopes and chances, — how can we call him a “free” American, with a “destiny” to teach the children of other social conditions than his own the finer lessons of democracy?

Let me then ask the editor and his friends to meet the question fairly. The editor took his stand on “American ethics.” Let him justify his platform. He cannot do that by any attempt to picture America as a chosen nation to whose destiny all other nations must defer.

I do not argue for the abandonment of anybody, but for the inclusion of all. The laws of virtue cannot be evaded. Injustice contains the germs of its own destruction. The old rules by which States may have been built do not operate today. As man’s sense of right enlarges, the provincial areas of its demonstration do not satisfy the spirit. What I plead for is that the world may realize its common interests and common destiny, and that it may see that policies which violate that sense of compact and universality are in the nature of things evil and suicidal. As Walt Whitman has splendidly said, we are aboard one ship, and what is port for one is port for all I do not ask for political reasons why I may live to my neighbor’s ruin. I ask for ethical reasons. For I may again recall for the editor that he has presented a brief for “American” ethics, and that such ethics can only be ethically justified. Therefore and finally I still maintain that what is port for one is port for all. Horace L. Traubel.

* The editor of the Camden (N. J.) “Post” and the writer have recently had a discussion on what the editor calls “American Ethics,” such ethics consisting of the incongruous unweldable elements indicated in this final article, which the protectionist advocate thought It wise not to print and which is offered here. The man Foote to whom allusion is made was drawn into the controversy towards the end. But he simply followed the lead of the editor, traversing the same ground in a slightly more technical and mystifying strain. Neither editor nor ally at any point attempted to answer my basic questions.

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Liberty’s Library

Leonard E. Read: Accent On The Right: To Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), who sought for truth rather than outcome and never witnessed the fruits his labor bore. Obedience to conscience was his first rule; we witness the results.

Leonard E. Read: Anything That’s Peaceful: Many favor peace but not many favor the things that make for peace. — Thomas à Kempis

Leonard E. Read: Awake for Freedom’s Sake: Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!

Leonard E. Read: Castles in the Air: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau

Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State: Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.

Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers: Murray Rothbard: Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) was an economist, historian, philosopher, and legal theoretician. His work was unified by a passionate and resolute commitment to a libertarianism that may be characterized as ‘anarcho-capitalism’ and which implied a belief that even the legal system may be provided privately without the need for a coercive collective authority. Hence, anarcho-capitalists envisage a society where the traditional role of government is wholly subsumed by private, profit-making enterprises and all social relationships are ultimately founded upon consent.