The Left, the Right, and the State
Lew Rockwell's new manifesto is a clarion call—creative and thought-provoking on every page—for a principled liberty in our time. There are very few books in which you can open up any page and immediately find a quotable and inspiring passage that will make you think hard, laugh out loud, or see things a completely new way. This is certainly one of them.
He covers every topic related to economics and politics, from the business cycle, to trade, to the drug war, to environmentalism. His central thesis is that the threat to liberty comes from both the Left and the Right, and that neither really offers a consistent way out. The real problem is much deeper than either the Right or the Left recognizes. It is the institution of the state itself, which everyone seems to want to use to his own philosophical advantage.
The problem, he writes, is not that we have chosen the wrong flavor of public policy but that we have public policy at all. All forms of policy—decisions made by state institutions that affect the uses of private property according to political priorities—amount to invasions of liberty. Relentlessly moving from left-wing to right-wing and back to left-wing policy is not progress; it means continued movement down the road to serfdom.
Beautifully edited and pristinely argued, this is a work in applied Austro-libertarian theory, tracking issues and headlines as they occur and bringing the light of logic and evidence to bear on the question at hand. The articles collected can be read in a matter of five minutes each, and they are organized along topical lines.
He is especially good in dealing with issues of national crisis, such as weather disasters, terrorist attacks, and economic downturns. He shows that liberty is more important in these times than any other. And while others back away during these times, he has consistently been out front, calling for peace when the masses are screaming for war, calling for freedom when the politicians demand a crackdown, and urging a free market when everyone else seems to be clamoring for state solutions.
If you have read Lew Rockwell's articles and speeches over the years and wished for a single collection, it has finally arrived in a beautifully bound hardback that is a real treasure to own and study. It makes a lasting impact.
Rockwell is the founder and president of the Mises Institute, and the editor of his own site LewRockwell.com. He has played an important role in the shaping of libertarian theory for a quarter of a century. This book shows how and why. Subtle, radical, and compelling, Rockwell's book is a great addition to the legendary literature of political dissidents.
Mises Institute, 2008