Fundamental Libertarian Books
A few popular books do the heavy lifting for libertarian ideology: bringing the most recruits, popularizing the ideas and providing critiques of mainstream ideas. They are all severely flawed. These are the way down the rabbit hole to libertarian wonderland. Come, drink the Kool-Aid!
- Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do : The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country (book, online)
- (1996) Peter McWilliams exemplifies how an obsession with liberty can lead you to discount all externalities. Nothing you do can affect anybody else!
- Anarchy, State, and Utopia (book) (8 links)
- (1974) Robert Nozick has written the most academically important attempt at libertarian philosophy. Starting with the fantasy of Natural Rights, it is rife with fallacies, misdirection and unstated assumptions.
- Atlas Shrugged (book) (9 links)
- (1957) Ayn Rand's horribly written young-adult fiction. A grotesque self-parody.
- Defending the Undefendable (book, online)
- (2008) Walter Block praises the pimp, prostitute, scab, slumlord, libeler, moneylender and other scapegoats in the rogue's gallery of American society. By cleverly ignoring the harms they commit. "[Third Parties] have neither stake nor standing in the matter, and should be ignored." Anybody with any concept of the role of institutions will see the folly of this book.
- Economics in One Lesson (book, online) (3 links)
- (1946) Henry Hazlitt's Austrian-style anti-progressivism reactionary rant. Peddled as an introduction to economics, because anyone with some knowledge of economics would laugh at it. 65 year old "the world is coming to an end tomorrow" doomsaying. And I'll never understand how he makes out 175+ pages in 24 chapters as "one lesson".
- Free To Choose (book) (3 links)
- (1981) Milton Friedman and Rose Director Friedman's major propaganda success for market-based everything.
- Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle (book, online)
- (1993) Libertarianism repackaged for the new-agey. Pseudoscientific, pollyanna claptrap. Revised as Healing Our World: In an Age of Aggression.
- Human Action: The Scholar's Edition (book)
- (1940, originally) (The Scholar's Edition) Ludwig von Mises' enormous rant in favor of the pseudoscience of praxeology. A self-study course in convincing yourself you understand economics and all the academic and professional economists are mistaken.
- Libertarianism In One Lesson: Why Libertarianism Is the Best Hope for America's Future (book)
- (1984) David Bergland provides first exercises in libertarian self-indoctrination. If you can believe 158 pages is "one lesson", you are ready to believe this book!
- Libertarianism: A Primer (book) (1 link)
- (1998) David Boaz' pollyanna view of just how wonderful libertarianism is!
- Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain (book)
- (1985) Richard Epstein takes the Lockean Fable about property seriously, and builds cloud-castles of his wished-for law upon it.
- The Law (book, online)
- (1850) Frederic Bastiat's ancient essay that suffers badly from being pre-marginalist, pre-institutionalist and based on natural rights.
- The Libertarian Reader: Classic & Contemporary Writings from Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman (book)
- (1998) David Boaz cherry picks passages from historical figures as if they wouldn't object strongly to modern libertarianism. Plus selections from the usual ideologues.
- The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism (book, online) (2 links)
- The foremost anarcho-capitalist introduction. If you suspend all knowledge of the real world, it appears to make sense. Very well written and vey clever. But it has not aged well since it was written in 1973, and later editions make no attempt to update it.
- The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (book)
- (1966) One of the finest SF novels ever written. But the high levels of detail about a libertarian society fail to make such a society plausible, and it suffers badly from the "we don't give a hoot about other people's problems so we blame them" aspect of libertarianism.
- The Road to Serfdom (book, online) (3 links)
- (1944) Friedrich von Hayek's comically failed prediction of the coming totalitarian socialist state in western nations.
One cannot overstate the childishness of the ideas that feed and stir the masses. Real ideas must as a rule be simplified to the level of a child's understanding if they are to arouse the masses to historic actions. A childish illusion, fixed in the minds of all children born in a certain decade and hammered home for four years, can easily reappear as a deadly serious political ideology twenty years later.
Sebastian Haffner, "Defying Hitler: A Memoir", pg. 17.