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Big Business and the Rise of American Statism

by Roy A. Childs (1949-1992)

Excerpt: In fact and in history, the entire thesis of all three schools is botched, from beginning to end. The interpretations of the Marxists, the liberals and the conservatives are a tissue of lies.

As Gabriel Kolko demonstrates in his masterly The Triumph of Conservatism and in Railroads and Regulation, the dominant trend in the last three decades of the nineteenth century and the first two of the twentieth was not towards increasing centralization, but rather, despite the growing number of mergers and the growth in the overall size of many corporations,

toward growing competition. Competition was unacceptable to many key business and financial leaders, and the merger movement was to a large extent a reflection of voluntary, unsuccessful business efforts to bring irresistible trends under control. …As new competitors sprang up, and as economic power was diffused throughout an expanding nation, it became apparent to many important businessmen that only the national government could [control and stabilize] the economy. …Ironically, contrary to the consensus of historians, it was not the existence of monopoly which caused the federal government to intervene in the economy, but the lack of it. Read on»

The Law by Frédéric Bastiat

The Law

by Frédéric Bastiat (1801 – 1850)

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Introduction from Foreword: Collapse of communism, technological innovations, accompanied by robust free-market organizations promoting Bastiat’s ideas, are the most optimistic things I can say about the future of liberty in the United States. Americans share an awesome burden and moral responsibility. If liberty dies in the United States, it is destined to die everywhere. A greater familiarity with Bastiat’s clear ideas about liberty would be an important step in rekindling respect and love, and allowing the resuscitation of the spirit of liberty among our fellow Americans. ~ Walter E. Williams

Excerpt: Life, faculties, production – in other words, individuality, liberty, property – this is man,” Bastiat writes. And since they are at the very core of human nature, they “precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.” Too few people understand that point. Legal positivism, the notion that there is no right and wrong prior to the enactment of legislation, sadly afflicts even some advocates of individual liberty (the utilitarian descendants of Bentham, for example). But, Bastiat reminds us, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

Excerpt: In the years since The Law was first published, little has been written in the classical liberal tradition that can approach its purity, its power, its nearly poetic quality. Alas, the world is far from having learned the lessons of The Law. Bastiat would be saddened by what America has become. He warned us. He identified the principles indispensable for proper human society and made them accessible to all. In the struggle to end the legalized plunder of statism and to defend individual liberty, how much more could be asked of one man? ~ Sheldon Richman

Audio, part 1/9

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The Man versus The State by Herbert Spencer

ESSAY
by Herbert Spencer

Originally published in 1884, Man versus the State with Six Essays on Government, Society and Freedom, addresses the consequences of compulsory cooperation imposed by the state versus the individual principle of voluntary cooperation. The You Tube audio series includes an excellent preface and introduction. »

Audio, part one:

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Man versus the State
Text and download »

Spencer bibliography
The Online Library of Liberty »

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The Right to Ignore the State

ESSAY
by Herbert Spencer (1820-1902)

As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state — to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one; and whilst passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation, without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man’s property against his will, is an infringement of his rights. Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not. If any one of them determines to ignore this mutual-safety confederation, nothing can be said except that he loses all claim to its good offices, and exposes himself to the danger of maltreatment — a thing he is quite at liberty to do if he likes. He cannot be coerced into political combination without a breach of the law of equal freedom; he can withdraw from it without committing any such breach; and he has therefore a right so to withdraw. Read on »


A Picture of Civilization at the Close of the Nineteenth Century

ESSAY
by John Henry MacKay

First of all, this: Let him who does not know me and who would, perhaps, in the following pages, look for such sensational disclosures as we see in those mendacious speculations upon the gullibility of the public from which the latter derives its sole knowledge of the Anarchistic movement, not take the trouble to read beyond the first page.

In no other field of social life does there exist to-day a more lamentable confusion, a more naïve superficiality, a more portentous ignorance than in that of Anarchism. The very utterance of the word is like the flourish of a red rag; in blind wrath the majority dash against it without taking time for calm examination and consideration. They will tear into tatters this work, too, without having understood it. Me their blows will not strike. Read on »