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What are the 4 best Anti-Socialist books? — [I will be debating socialists in a public arena]

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Samuel Marks Posted: Thu, Jun 23 2011 10:34 AM

Good Morning,

My name is Samuel Marks and I'm the founder of Macquarie Univeristy League, Inaugurater of the Libertarian Society at the University of New South Wales and am helping Libertarians at various other Universities around Australia begin Liberterian Student-Groups. I'm also one of the organisers for Mises Seminar.

As another method for furthering the message of libertarianism and to help secure its primacy in Australia, I have formed a debating-team to debate against all the Socialist clubs and assocations.

We are starting in Sydney with a debate, then moving down to Perth (sponsored by The Mannkal Foundation) to debate with all the Socialist groups there.

My team is made up of bright young Libertarian Free-Market advocates, who specialise each in a different field.

None of us are widely read on Socialism (though I've read some of Friedman's, Hayek's & Rotbhard's work on Socialism), so could you please recommend some literature?

I will be requiring they each read 1 book from the list of 4 (which this thread will hopefully create + narrow down!), and recommend they read another book from a different list; so please recommend literature which compliments other literature, in-case we can't all read every book on the list; so that we can each specialise in a certain topic.

Thank you very much for all recommendations,

Samuel Marks

PS: If you're Australian and wish to become involved, either with these debates, with starting a student-group or with joining a student-group, please email me at: Samuel@LibertarianSociety.info

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Luke B. replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 10:48 AM

 

Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis by Ludwig von Mises may fit the bill. 

[Note: If you follow that link, at the bottom of the page you'll find a "resources page" link where you can download the book for free as well as purchase a physical copy]

 

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Aiser replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 10:53 AM

There are no official certain set of books required to know why socialism cannot work. It all depends o which literature you would like best. here is a list of PDF's you can read to get you started.

http://mises.org/books/socialism.pdf

http://mises.org/books/Socialismcapitalism.pdf

http://mises.org/books/failuresocialism.pdf

http://mises.org/books/failureofneweconomics.pdf

Also, i don't know about socialist in Australia but i know that the socialist in western Europe and here in America have this HUGE habit of bringing up what they would call "the worlds most successful society" Sweden. Sweden of course is hardcore socialist so if your opponents bring up Sweden you might want to go over this list here.

http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/5616.aspx?PageIndex=1

You might have ALOT of reading to do >=).

 

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Hard Rain replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 11:13 AM

Rather than diving into pure theory I think you should research your opponents a bit more. What kind of socialists do they purport to be? Do they actually envisage the government owning the means of production, or are they simply in favour of a fluffy welfare-state?

Knowing these details ought to help narrow our frame of reference and point you in a better direction.

"I don't believe in ghosts, sermons, or stories about money" - Rooster Cogburn, True Grit.
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Marxism - A Materials List

 

Here is a small list I put together.

 

If you get more specific about what you are going to be discussing, I can further help you in points you can raise and material to you seek out. By the way, it is important to figure out what kind of socialists you are debating since they varying to such a degree. I would recommend Alexander Gray's The Socialist Tradition to everyone on your team so they can ascertain what kind of ideology they follow since Gray's work covers nearly all of the Socialist schools. David Gordon's Resurrecting Marx is a look at modern Analytical Marxism. Mises Socialism is a good all around philosophical critique of Socialism and his Theory and History is good against Marx's historical materialism theory.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 12:37 PM

I don't know if these are the best, but parts of these books have really helped to think about what socialism is.

A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism by Hans Herman Hoppe

The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper

ARISTOTELIAN LIBERALISM: AN INQUIRY INTO THE FOUNDATIONS OF A FREE AND FLOURISHING SOCIETY by Geoffrey Allan Plauche- This one explains why free markets have been a part of the liberal tradition and why it is that freedom and liberty are needed for individual flourishing. It also explains the philosophy of Hegel as a conservative ideology.

"What is the liberal conception of society? On the one hand it is cosmopolitan, encompassing the whole of the Earth and the human race. On the other, it can accommodate restrictive, close-knit local communities and all manner of social and market organizations. It recognizes a universal brotherhood of human beings and embraces the increasing global integration brought on by modern telecommunications, transportation and commerce."

"I will argue that Hegel’s philosophy, and in particular his Philosophy of Right, amounts at least in part to a conservative rationalization of the historical conditions of his time. It will be seen that his ideal conception of society stands diametrically opposed to the Aristotelian-liberal conception sketched above. I will also suggest that the logic of Hegel’s account of the state and war implies that they are historical moments in the progressive process leading towards the absolute rationalization and unification of mankind."

" However, the demonstration of the necessity and superior efficiency of markets by economic theory and historical evidence has long since refuted full-blown Marxist and socialist critics. Not that Marxism and other forms of socialism are thoroughly dead, but they are no longer the dominant form of criticism. Today’s dominant forms of market criticism, outside of economics, come from at least two sources: 1) communitarians, and 2) the field of business ethics." etc. etc. It is quite good in my opinion.

The State by Franz Oppenheimer

"The proof is as follows: All teachers of natural law, etc., have unanimously declared that the differentiation into income-receiving classes and propertyless classes can only take place when all fertile lands have been occupied. For so long as man has ample opportunity to take up unoccupied land, “no one,” says Turgot, “would think of entering the service of another;” we may add, “at least for wages, which are not apt to be higher than the earnings of an independent peasant working an unmortgaged and sufficiently large property;” while mortgaging is not possible as long as land is yet free for the working or taking, as free as air and water. Matter that is obtainable for the taking has no value that enables it to be pledged, since no one loans on things that can be had for nothing."

note: The forum software has some weird formatting tendencies so I have underlining in weird spots.

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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Phaedros replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 12:47 PM

Also this http://www.newgeography.com/content/002287-sweden-a-role-model-capitalist-reform

"A Scandinavian economist once stated to Milton Friedman: "In Scandinavia we have no poverty." Milton Friedman replied, "That's interesting, because in America among Scandinavians, we have no poverty either." Indeed, the poverty rate for Americans with Swedish ancestry is only 6.7 percent, half the U.S. average. Economists Geranda Notten and Chris de Neubourg have calculated the poverty rate in Sweden using the American poverty threshold, finding it to be an identical 6.7 percent."

Tumblr The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants. ~Albert Camus
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Clayton replied on Thu, Jun 23 2011 5:16 PM

Since this is a debate, I strongly recommend that everyone in your group read Frederic Bastiat's The Law (which, despite its title, is primarily concerned with refuting the case for Socialism). Bastiat's treatise is short (so each of you will have time to read it in addition to your other assigned book) and addressed to the popular audience so it addresses all the common pitfalls, fallacies and appeals to emotion that are commonly used to argue the case for Socialism. Bastiat is perfect for handling all those "gotcha" questions which are used to disorient opponents in a debate.

I'd also recommend that one person in your group read Thomas Sowell's Economic Facts and Fallacies. This field is so rife with fallacies (these fallacies are already lodged in the minds of your audience and the judges, so you're at a disadvantage from the outset) that just being able to field them gracefully may be more important than constructing a positive case for free markets or against socialism.

Also, one person in the group should read Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson if it's not already been mentioned.

Clayton -

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com
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I was not sure which of your posts to reply to ;)

But you might find this debate interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX2TqXT8GcY

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I would suggest:  Mises' Socialism, Carl Menger's Principles,  and Hoff's Economic Calculation in the Economic Society.

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I have to go with Clayton here and say The Law by Frederick Bastiat.

fultonforcitycouncil.com - Donate to my city council campaign.
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fiatjaf replied on Sat, Jun 25 2011 1:39 AM

There is an excerpt from Böhm-Bawerk's writes which is called "The exploitation theory of socialism-communism". It's short, but takes "Das Kapital" in each and every point the book puts, since the first word, crushing it from the beggining to the end. If you're going to debate socialists, it's better to go on their field, show them you've read their books and say:

"It's all wrong, you can never say that value comes out from labor hours, because the difference itself between 'labor hours' and 'laze hours' depends on its creation (or not) of value for the the society (market), not the contrary".

And it's done.

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Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy - Joseph Schumpeter

 

You read it and it sounds like he's ragging on capitalism, but that is what makes it great!

Eating Propaganda

What do you mean i don't care how your day was?!

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Rauswaffen replied on Thu, Jun 30 2011 10:24 PM

If you give a mouse a cookie.

 

Seriously. Think about it.

http://libertythinkers.com/author/shawn-kelly/
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'If you give a mouse a cookie.

Seriously. Think about it.'

Do you live in fear that you will one day read a book that changes everything you know about liberty and compels you to accept the framework of Socialism?

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

Thus far I've read "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth"

Thanks Aiser for the Sweden reference (and book PDFs) they will be very helpful. The failuresocialism.pdf one links "Leon Trotsky, the Portrait of a Youth" which I may look further into also.

Hard Rain: They seem to be trotskyians.

Awesome link Andrew Cain, that list you've collated is excellent! - I will most definitely watch all those lectures :]

Phaedros: Some interesting quotes you have more, I think I need to do some more research to fully understand Hegel's conservative ideology and Oppenheimer.

Your second post is also great, I will add that to the notes we'll bring to the debates.

Clayton: I'm suprised at how short Bastiat's "The Law" is. I'll definitely give it a read and add it to required reading for my fellow debators (on my team).

Jack Roberts: (and everyone else here) sorry for not replying sooner, had some account troubles.

I watched the debate as soon as you linked it to me! - Now that's some excellent preparation for my debate, both in structure and in content :]

Thanks!

Thanks Catalán, would you think that "Economic Calculation in the Economic Society" has a lot of overlap with "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth"?

fiatjaf: Awesome, thanks. I'll add that quote to the notes we'll bring into the debate.

Em_ptySkin: Love Schumpeter! - I'll definitely give that a read (even post-debate if I can't find the time before)

Thanks once again everyone for your replies, this debate should now be in the bag (for our side)!

Samuel Marks

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Aiser replied on Wed, Jul 27 2011 10:30 AM

Good to read. Please let us know the results of your debate once you get back.smiley

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Thanks Catalán, would you think that "Economic Calculation in the Economic Society" has a lot of overlap with "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth"?

The former is more of a recap of where the debate lies.  It goes through all the different discussions.

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If I were debating socialists, I'd probably read books by socialists. That way I'd know what to expect. If you only read criticisms of socialism, you run the risk of finding out that you only read a strawman of socialism and that your debating opponents are actually arguing for something different. Marxists claim that many critics of Marx's Labor Theory of Value, including Böhm-Bawerk, misrepresent it. If I were debating on that topic, I'd definitely read Das Kapital so I could form an interpretation of my own.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Esuric replied on Fri, Jul 29 2011 12:46 AM

I mean, if you want to arm yourself with enough facts to completely refute and discredit any socialist, and any form of socialism, then you merely need to read and study Mises' Socialism. If you want to focus primarily on Marxian socialism, then you should also read Bohm-Bawerk's Karl Marx and the Close of his System, Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (part 1), and Hayek's The Use of Knowledge in Society (part of his Individualism and Economic Order).

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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i agree with Fool. You should probably know what socialists are saying, not what everyone else is saying about them. Think about it. If a socialist came here to debate you having only read anti-capitalist literature, do you think they'd be addressing anything you propose?

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Neodoxy replied on Fri, Jul 29 2011 11:53 AM

Birthday Pony:

i agree with Fool. You should probably know what socialists are saying, not what everyone else is saying about them. Think about it. If a socialist came here to debate you having only read anti-capitalist literature, do you think they'd be addressing anything you propose?

 

Agreed. Find yourself a trotskian on left rev and ask them what a short book which explains their position is and read it.

Socialism by Mises is excellent, although I also think that democracy: The god that Failed, does a great critique of modern democratic socialism

 

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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