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What book turned you Libertarian

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Andrew Posted: Wed, Apr 30 2008 1:25 PM

The one that really grabbed me by the throat was Friedman's " Capitalism and Freedom" and " The Road To Serfdom". Then Benjamin Tucker's compilation and Spooner's "Constitution of Treason" through me off the reformist cliff into an-cap.

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maxpot46 replied on Wed, Apr 30 2008 1:39 PM

The Way the World Works by Jude Wanniski.  It's not from the libertarian tradition (though it's considered an important work to supply siders) but it opened my eyes to the hidden ways the state destroys our society.

 

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"For A New Liberty" and "The Ethics of Liberty".

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None. I don't think I've ever been able to understand why someone would have authority over me (though obviously I grudgingly accept the authority to avoid prison). Later I simply rejected the idea that I could improve other people and by definition became a libertarian.

On a side note, are you still libertarian if you arrive at non-initiation of force through seeing initiation of force as ineffective, as opposed to immoral?
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On a side note, are you still libertarian if you arrive at non-initiation of force through seeing initiation of force as ineffective, as opposed to immoral?

I'd say no. So long as you are consistant with the conclusion, all is well. People can come to the conclusion from different angles and that's fine. That being said, I myself prefer the moral approach and find it to be more radical and I do see a certain danger of the utilitarian abandoning the principle in practise when they find it to be unpragmatic.

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hjmaiere replied on Wed, Apr 30 2008 2:41 PM

I always had a libertarian bent, but "America's Great Depression" by Rothbard was the book that made me self-consciously libertarian. Interestingly enough, it didn't do it right away. I read the book in high school on someone's recommendation. Not the kind of thing I normally read, but interesting none-the-less. A few months later I took the required course in U.S. history. It was Rothbard's book that allowed me to realize my government school was deliberately trying to fill my head with total garbage. I have since read almost everything else Rothbard, Hoppe, Hayek, and Mises have written. (Hayek's "The Fatal Conceit" is, so far, the chewiest.)

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wombatron replied on Wed, Apr 30 2008 2:59 PM

 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand first made me critical of the state, and Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty made me a full-fledged ancap.  Since, I've read everything by Rand, Rothbard, Mises, and Hayek that I could get my hands on.

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Hoppe's Democracy - the God that Failed.

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BWF89 replied on Wed, Apr 30 2008 6:28 PM

Civil Disobedience (also known by Resistance to Civil Government) by Henry Throeau was kind of a pushing factor.

The strangest part was that I read it in public school.

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Brainpolice:
I myself prefer the moral approach and find it to be more radical and I do see a certain danger of the utilitarian abandoning the principle in practise when they find it to be unpragmatic.


I've never been a fan of morality. Perhaps I'd be willing to put more emphasis on it, if more people actually practiced what they preached. But at the moment, morality in its various forms is more often a convenient justification for something, than an actual narrative to live by. So having grown up seeing the world as a nihilistic free-for-all, I never had a need to incorporate morality into that scheme of things. It would only introduce unneeded complexity.

And I think this applies to everyone. I see the moral approach only as a consequence of understanding properly the utility gained from coercing others. For example, as long as I held to a nationalist view of the world, where I kept imagining a connection between myself and the state, I also held that coercing others to serve the state was advantageous. And similarly a socialist will hold to his forceful doctrine as long as he imagines a connection between himself and the collective. And so will the social liberal as long as he is under the delusion that he can improve others. The only way to libertarianism is through understanding that what is gained from all this is actually very minimal, if not non-existent.
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macsnafu replied on Thu, May 1 2008 10:45 PM

 Ayn Rand's "For The New Intellectual".  When I read that, all sorts of ideas just started connecting--it was just one light bulb after another for me.

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idi0m replied on Sun, May 4 2008 9:29 PM

I stumbled upon Voltairine de Cleyre's Anarchism and the American Tradition. After exhausting her readings, I moved onto other pieces by her. I still feel lacking in knowledge as far as the libertarian front goes; however I've begun procuring works of Rothbard. It was inevitable for me to discover the term voluntaryism.


I find it amusing I once identified as an Anarcho-syndicalist. But then I couldn't reconcile both the destruction of state and commerce. It seemed either one or the other would need be prevalent. In which case, I chose commerce. At this point of self-revelation I debated with a few different anarchist sites/forums and gave up speaking to deaf ears. It was actually rather disheartening.

Now to moralism, isn't that reasoning based on internalism and consequentialism? And what of practicalism? I thought both morals and pragmatism were necessary otherwise aren't they both just extremes within the voluntaryist philosophy?

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shazam replied on Sun, May 4 2008 11:21 PM

 I had always had more or less libertarian leanings. However, John Stossel's Give Me A Break expanded my libertarianism and several months on Lewrockwell.com turned me into an an-cap.

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Solomon replied on Mon, May 5 2008 5:48 AM

 Spooner's "No Treason" and Rothbard's "Egalitarianism as a Revolt against Nature and Other Essays".

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Magnus replied on Mon, May 5 2008 6:01 AM

 "Defending world capitalism" by Johan Norberg, was an eye opener.

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Danno replied on Thu, May 8 2008 1:20 AM

I always had the bent, but _How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World_ by Harry Browne was seminal - Ayn Rand shortly thereafter. OTOH, I'm not all that sure I'm a Libertarian - I'm not a pacifist.

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Solomon replied on Thu, May 8 2008 1:57 AM

 Most libertarians aren't pacifists; they advocate only against the initiation of aggression, not aggression per se.

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CShirk replied on Thu, May 8 2008 4:46 PM

Economic Policy by Ludwig vonMises read side-by-side Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

 

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nhaag replied on Fri, May 9 2008 6:21 AM

The bible

 

In the begining there was nothing, and it exploded.

Terry Pratchett (on the big bang theory)

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Fephisto replied on Fri, May 9 2008 11:55 AM

Milton Friedman's Free to Choose.

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I've always been a libertarian minded person.  Even when I was experimenting with socialist thought I could never really adopt it as a theory to live by.  I never liked having taxes taken out and couldn't figure out why I should take more taxes from someone to pay for this or that.  I started listening to the Alex Jones radio show and that lead me to Ron Paul who led me to Lew Rockwell and that led me to the LvMI website.  It was in trying to defend minarchist ideas that someone pointed me to the chapter in The Ethics of Liberty that dealt with private defense and courts.  That did it for me.  Just that one chapter.  So I bought the book and then bought Rothbards For a New Liberty (which I've just about finished).  Not to mention the hundreds of articles I've read so far on LvMI.  So really...I blame Alex Jones, that crazy conspiracist for bringing me to libertarianism.

 

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 Not so much a book, as it was a speaker.  Walter Block 'converted' me through many of his lectures and essays.  I am in high school and am pretty bogged down with school books and sports so I dont have a lot of spare time to read entire books, but I do have time to watch a 60 minute lecture or a 15 page essay.  ; )

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Now every full moon I clothes appear on my body that give me the look of a disheveled Tucker Carlson and I prowl around at night attacking statists with my keyboard.

 

---edit---

I missed the part about "book".  That would be "Yertle The Turtle".

 

 

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guitarman replied on Mon, May 12 2008 9:42 AM

"FDR's Folly" really got me thinking and eventually, I started reading Hayek and Mises. The Road to Serfdom was very influential.

 

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MacFall replied on Mon, May 12 2008 8:25 PM

I became a libertarian because of the influence of my friends, and came to the very edge of individualist anarchism mostly through my own reason and a drive to be morally and logically consistent. However, Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty ended all my doubts about the legitimacy of statism. For A New Liberty cemented my belief in the free-market alternative to state-provided security and justice, which I had already begun to develop in my own mind.

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Bostwick replied on Wed, May 14 2008 1:16 AM

Libertas est Veritas:
On a side note, are you still libertarian if you arrive at non-initiation of force through seeing initiation of force as ineffective, as opposed to immoral?

I don't really make a distinction between morality and pragmatism.

Men are self owning because of their nature as self controlling. If it was my nature for someone else to think for me perhaps I wouldn't be self owning.

Its no coincidence that society, and thus the individuals in it, are best off when people act morally.

Peace

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Bardock42 replied on Thu, May 15 2008 8:10 PM

Well, I was always pro-freedom and pro-capitalism. I just didn't know what word to describe it with. Atlas Shrugged was the first book I read on the subject though. And it did influence me to a more radical approach and understanding of the ideas.

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Parsidius replied on Sat, May 17 2008 9:39 AM

 My turning libertarian was more an internal process than a reaction to an external item such as a book or an event, as I progressively realized how stupid government was. The book that most affected my libertarianism, though, was Hoppe's D:TGTF.

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Great question.

I think I was largely already there but hadn't fully realized it. Friedman's " Capitalism and Freedom" definitely formally pushed me over the edge though.

 

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None.  It was the logical explinations behind an individuals positions during debates and interviews that turned me libertarian.  Perhaps you heard of him, Ron Paul.:)

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nje5019 replied on Mon, May 26 2008 12:12 PM

'Free to Choose' by Friedman and 'Atlas Shrugged' by Rand.

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scineram replied on Mon, May 26 2008 1:31 PM
First it was either Free to Choose or Capitalism and Freedom, cannot remember. Then I heard about Hayek and read Fatal Conceit. The final nails were the online articles of the Libertarian Alliance. I owe them a lot. And the icing was mises.org.
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Ronorama replied on Thu, May 29 2008 8:23 AM

wombatron:

 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand first made me critical of the state, and Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty made me a full-fledged ancap.  Since, I've read everything by Rand, Rothbard, Mises, and Hayek that I could get my hands on.

What he said.

 

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Nitroadict replied on Thu, May 29 2008 10:06 AM


The short version (long version pending for a blog post one day...):

Long before I got serious into politics, I had vague ideas concerning the NAP & other snippets of libertarianism (but didn't know it at the time), and a lot of what motivated me towards learning more about libertarianism was motivated by earlier views in my own writings (fictional & non-fictional).

It wasn't until at a certain point with my exposure to the Internet was I able to apply labels & concepts to those ideas, which in retrospect were very polycentric, specifically with regards to intercultural competence, emergent behavior, & complex systems.

As for books I've read, I credit Douglas Rushkoff's "Coercion: Why We Listen to What "They" Say" as the beginning of my conscious turning point towards libertarianism.

"The Teenage Libertarian Handbook" (Grace Lleweyln) was the book that made libertarianism more rational to me & confirmed many previous suspicions on public education; if I were to pick a book, it would probably be Rothbard's "For A New Liberty" (audiobook) that helped explain the rest.

Most of the reinforcement of me becoming a libertarian occurred online & via media exposure (Ron Paul, initally), however.


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Jain Daugh replied on Thu, May 29 2008 10:12 AM

Dang, its been so long ago, I have a hard time remembering exactly which one - hmmmm. I know I read Atlas Shrugged probably first, but the book I credit most is How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World by Harry Browne. After that No Treason (Spooner) , Anthem (Rand), The Discovery of Freedom (Rose Wilder Lane), and The Sovereign Individual (Davidson & Rees-Mogg) are just as good.

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kingmonkey replied on Thu, May 29 2008 10:35 AM

I'm getting a kick out of people who say that Ayn Rand turned them on to libertarianism even though she HATED libertarians!  That really cracks me up!  The person who hates libertarians more than anyone else is responsible for creating so many of them!  That's just funny.

This is from the Ayn Rand Institutes website:

Q: What do you think of the Libertarian movement? [FHF: “The Moratorium on Brains,” 1971]

AR: All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.

Q: What do you think of the Libertarian Party? [FHF: “A Nation’s Unity,” 1972]

AR: I’d rather vote for Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, or Jerry Lewis. I don’t think they’re as funny as Professor Hospers and the Libertarian Party. If, at a time like this, John Hospers takes ten votes away from Nixon (which I doubt he’ll do), it would be a moral crime. I don’t care about Nixon, and I care even less about Hospers. But this is no time to engage in publicity seeking, which all these crank political parties are doing. If you want to spread your ideas, do it through education. But don’t run for President—or even dogcatcher—if you’re going to help McGovern.

Q: What is your position on the Libertarian Party? [FHF: “Censorship: Local and Express,” 1973]

AR: I don’t want to waste too much time on it. It’s a cheap attempt at publicity, which Libertarians won’t get. Today’s events, particularly Watergate, should teach anyone with amateur political notions that they cannot rush into politics in order to get publicity. The issue is so serious today, that to form a new party based in part on half-baked ideas, and in part on borrowed ideas—I won’t say from whom—is irresponsible, and in today’s context, nearly immoral.

Q: Libertarians advocate the politics you advocate. So why are you opposed to the Libertarian Party? [FHF: “Egalitarianism and Inflation,” 1974]

AR:They are not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every of persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Moreover, most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now, I think it’s a bad beginning for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas.

Q: Have you ever heard of [Libertarian presidential candidate] Roger MacBride? [FHF: “?” 1976]

AR: My answer should be, “I haven’t.” There’s nothing to hear. I have been maintaining in everything I have said and written, that the trouble in the world today is philosophical; that only the right philosophy can save us. Now here is a party that plagiarizes some of my ideas, mixes it with the exact opposite—with religionists, anarchists, and just about every intellectual misfit and scum they can find—and they call themselves Libertarians, and run for office. I dislike Reagan and Carter; I’m not too enthusiastic about the other candidates. But the worst of them are giants compared to anybody who would attempt something as un-philosophical, low, and pragmatic as the Libertarian Party. It is the last insult to ideas and philosophical consistency.

Q: Do you think Libertarians communicate the ideas of freedom and capitalism effectively? [Q&A following LP’s “Objective Communication,” Lecture 1, 1980]

AR: I don’t think plagiarists are effective. I’ve read nothing by a Libertarian (when I read them, in the early years) that wasn’t my ideas badly mishandled—i.e., had the teeth pulled out of them—with no credit given. I didn’t know whether I should be glad that no credit was given, or disgusted. I felt both. They are perhaps the worst political group today, because they can do the most harm to capitalism, by making it disreputable.

Q: Why don’t you approve of the Libertarians, thousands of whom are loyal readers of your works? [FHF: “The Age of Mediocrity,” 1981]

AR: Because Libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people: they plagiarize my ideas when that fits their purpose, and they denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication, when that fits their purpose. They are lower than any pragmatists, and what they hold against Objectivism is morality. They’d like to have an amoral political program. 

Q: The Libertarians are providing intermediate steps toward your goals. Why don’t you support them?  [Ibid., 1981]

AR: Please don’t tell me they’re pursuing my goals. I have not asked for, nor do I accept, the help of intellectual cranks. I want philosophically educated people: those who understand ideas, care about ideas, and spread the right ideas. That’s how my philosophy will spread, just as philosophy has throughout all history: by means of people who understand and teach it to others. Further, it should be clear that I do not endorse the filthy slogan, “The end justifies the means.”  That was originated by the Jesuits, and accepted enthusiastically by Communists and .  The end does not justify the means; you cannot achieve anything good by evil means. Finally, the Libertarians aren’t worthy of being the means to any end, let alone the end of spreading Objectivism.

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds. " -- Samuel Adams.

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There's a grain of truth in all that, though. What Rand offers that a lot of libertarians do not is a systematic approach towards morality. She takes the reader through the very basics, exploding and eradicating one's prejudices and presuppositions. Rothbard, though TEoL is excellent, does not do so in his book and refers the reader elsewhere for a detailed proof of libertarian ethics, which is fine given the context, but it means it's more a book for advanced readers than those who have no experience with libertarian theory.

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There's a grain of truth in all that, though. What Rand offers that a lot of libertarians do not is a systematic approach towards morality. She takes the reader through the very basics, exploding and eradicating one's prejudices and presuppositions. Rothbard, though TEoL is excellent, does not do so in his book and refers the reader elsewhere for a detailed proof of libertarian ethics, which is fine given the context, but it means it's more a book for advanced readers than those who have no experience with libertarian theory.

-Jon

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Ronorama replied on Thu, May 29 2008 10:49 AM

Wow...what an intriguing denouncement of a similar philosophy. Rands points about "Libertarians" seem more directed toward the Libertarian Party in particular, and I actually agree with most of them. This is why I no longer affiliate myself with the LP, as they are more willing to compromise principles in favor of what is politically feasible all the time. I realize there must be a balance, but she's right in that you "cannot achieve anything good by evil means". She's being childish, though, about "plagiarizing" her ideas...as if all of her ideas were completely original, and as though simply agreeing with her constitutes some kind of theft.

I was originally turned onto the philosophy of objectivism by Atlas Shrugged, but I didn't agree with all of her ideas. As I educated myself further I found libertariansim (lower-case "l") to be more in line with my own beliefs and more consistent than objectivism. So even though she may hate Libertarians, I still have to credit her work with my "political awakening".

 

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