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Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State (Think Now) [Hardcover]

Gerard Casey
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 July 2012 Think Now
Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.

Casey presents a novel perspective on political philosophy, arguing against the conventional political philosophy pieties and defending a specific political position, which he identifies as 'libertarian anarchy'. The book includes a history of the concept of anarchy, an examination of the possibility of anarchic societies and an articulation of the nature of law and order within such societies. Casey presents his specific form of anarchy, undergirded by a theory of human action that prioritises liberty, as a philosophically and politically viable alternative to the standard positions in political theory.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441125523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441125521
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,161,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Gerard Casey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin, Ireland, Adjunct Professor at the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, UK, and Adjunct Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Alabama, USA. His publications include Murray Rothbard (Continuum, 2010) and Natural Reason (Peter Lang, 1984).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entering the Hyperverse of Ultimate Freedom 11 Sep 2012
This book, 'Libertarian Anarchy' by Professor Casey, is an excellent way of bringing together lots of different philosophical threads into a single clear focus based around the ideas of total freedom, personal secession from the state, and the totally voluntary society.

The alternative route to the same destination would normally involve tackling a combination of the Rothbardian and Hoppeian canons, both of which are superb, of course, in scope and execution, but which require much more effort on the part of the reader. And who has time for deep effort any more in this rush, rush, rush world, where surviving the economic 'solutions' of 'our leaders', since 2008, has drawn out more and more individual energy, from all of us here in productive land, just to stand still?

If you want the movie of the book first, with all the best bits left in, then 'Libertarian Anarchy' is going to form an excellent taster for those mightier libertarian works in your future.

Accessing the Rothbard canon has always involved tackling the major asteroid of 'Man, Economy, and State', along perhaps with the smaller comets of 'Power and Market', 'The Ethics of Liberty', and 'For a New Liberty'. To that, you probably need to add Hoppe's three key works, of 'A Theory of Capitalism & Socialism', 'The Economics and Ethics of Private Property', and 'Democracy, The God That Failed'. Perhaps to round out the set, you would need to add Bruce Benson's 'The Enterprise of Law, Justice Without the State', and Rothbard's superb 'Egalitarianism As a Revolt Against Nature'.

And then we could talk about Oppenheimer, Hazlitt, Hayek, Mises, and Kinsella.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gets to grips with the arguments for anarchy 31 Dec 2012
By dikdok
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Casey takes issue with the belief that anarchy would lead to chaos. He makes a good attempt to show how better alternatives to the State would arise. Not entirely convincing for me (I believe in the minimal State although I would like to believe in Casey's view} but well worth a read for those who consider the State to have grown far too big.
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This book is slightly less academic (for want of a better word) than some and everyone should read it. Whether you are a Libertarian or not (and if not, why not?) this book will really make you think about a situation which most people think is the norm and there is no other choice. Wrong!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Libertarian, NOT libertine; anarchy, NOT violent chaos! 14 Nov 2012
By Lee Welter - Published on
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Professor Gerard Casey's new book, LIBERTARIAN ANARCHY: AGAINST THE STATE, at first glance might seem like a radical incitement of chaos and senseless violence. Instead, this book is an iconoclastic view of government and law which favors basic human values while disabusing its readers of the myth that centralized monopoly of violence (the essence of government) is vital to a civil society.

For those who are inextricably (and inexplicably, in my view) married to contemporary myths of the status quo, reading LIBERTARIAN ANARCHY could be puzzling and frustrating. However, if you truly believe in human values and in critical thinking, this will be a good read.

Professor Casey clearly explains and justifies the libertarian Non-aggression Principle (NAP), based upon the Golden Rule of many religions and all civil societies. With extensive knowledge of history, particularly writings of notable economists and philosophers, he highlights both his agreement and his disagreement with other viewpoints, dissecting out key points while supporting his own persuasively. Heeding Friedrich Hayek's ( ) warning about collectivists distorting our language to meet their propaganda aims, Casey meticulously points out and rectifies many such distortions.

Just as the author's sometimes dry rhetoric becomes a bit brittle, he provides humor. Purposely brief, this book is not superficial, but pithy, provoking enlightening thought and insights.
If you think "the left" is either superior or inferior to "the right" read the book. If you think you are not a victim of "the system" read the book. If you think, read the book. I think; therefore I am Libertarian.

Lee O. Welter
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 13 Feb 2013
By Jason H. VanSickle - Published on
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Very good introductory book to what the author calls Libertarian Anarchy, or Anarcho Capitalism. Gives great analysis of the principles of Liberty and what Anarchy really is.

I would recommend this to everyone. I just wish I would have came across this sooner on my Libertarian path. Would have sped up my process of understanding the concepts of Libertarianism much sooner.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable introduction to libertarianism 13 Dec 2012
By William Kiely - Published on
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While I have been a libertarian anarchist for about two years now, I hadn't read any books on the subject until about a month and a half ago. In that time I first read David Friedman's "The Machinery of Freedom", then I read Gerard Casey's "Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State." I also read Gary Chartier's book "The Conscience of an Anarchist" and the first 250 pages of Murray Rothbard's "For a New Liberty."

Drawing from this experience I can say that Casey's book is quite different than the rest (in fact they are all quite different from one another). The back cover of "Libertarian Anarchy" says:

"Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security...."

Having just read Friedman's "The Machinery of Freedom" I was expecting Casey's book to make more practical arguments for the position that the state is not necessary for the provision of peace and security than it actually did. The reality, however, is that most of the arguments in "Libertarian Anarchy" are principled libertarian arguments. Casey does makes various philosophical arguments that say that the state is not necessary. For example, in his discussion of law he argues that monopolistic states are not needed to provide law. But, he does not go into any in-depth discussions of the economics of the stateless provision of law, nor does he entertain any of the practical questions (such as, "But what about the roads?") that people often ask. This isn't necessarily a drawback of the book, but I'm mentioning it simply because I thought, judging by the statement on the back cover, that the book would have more practical arguments for a stateless society than it actually did.

Casey does a good job summarizing several historical examples of near-anarchist societies, most of which I had heard of but hadn't known as many details about. He provides a variety of reasons why we should accept libertarian principles in his chapter on libertarianism and the Non-Aggression Principle. I personally thought his chapter on Delegitimizing the State was one of the best in the book.

Casey cites many great libertarian theorists and other thinkers throughout "Libertarian Anarchy." He also, on occasion, cites people who he disagrees with and cites people who make non-libertarian anarchist arguments and other popular arguments against libertarianism and then explains why the arguments fail.

Some parts of the book were better written than others, but one of my only major criticisms of the book was that he seemingly randomly inserted a 4-page discussion on metaphysical libertarianism into the middle of his chapter on libertarianism the political philosophy (page 48-51). I am not a metaphysical libertarian myself and I think that the argument against determinism that Casey makes is false, but note that even if his argument was sound and even if I agreed with his position, it still remains that a discussion of metaphysics doesn't belong in his discussion on the political philosophy. They are both called "libertarianism" but are completely different subjects.

Overall, however, Professor Casey did a great job with the book. As a libertarian anarchist myself, I can't turn down the opportunity to recommend a book that begins with the observation that states are criminal organizations.

Here is the first paragraph of Gerard Casey's "Libertarian Anarchy":

"The criminal state

"States are criminal organizations. All states, not just the obviously totalitarian or repressive ones. The only possible exceptions to this sweeping claim are those mini-states that are, in effect, swollen bits of private property, such as the Vatican. I intend this statement to be understood literally and not as some form of rhetorical exaggeration. The argument is simple. Theft, robbery, kidnapping and murder are all crimes. Those who engage in such activities, whether on their own behalf or on behalf of others are, by definition, criminals. In taxing the people of a country, the state engages in an activity that is morally equivalent to theft or robbery; in putting some people in prison, especially those who are convicted of so-called victimless crimes or when it drafts people into the armed services, the state is guilty of kidnapping or false imprisonment; in engaging in wars that are other than purely defensive or, even if defensive, when the means of defence employed are disproportionate and indiscriminate, the state is guilty of manslaughter or murder."

For a video of Casey talking about his book, scroll to the bottom of the page at this URL (replacing "DOT" with "."):

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Libertarian Anarchy" finally makes sense 13 Jan 2013
By R. England - Published on
Gerard Casey doesn't buy the notion of libertarians as socially liberal, economically conservative libertines. Nor is his anarchy that of those bearded, bomb-throwing, social-anarchists of a century ago.

"Libertarian Anarchy, Against the State" defines human freedom with but a single limitation: "no one may initiate or threaten to initiate coercive physical violence [aggression] against the person or property of another." This non-aggression principle stills leave room for the proportionate use of defensive force. It seems a reasonable rule to live by, but Professor Casey takes the next step and asserts that such limitation is as properly applied to government as it is to individuals.

After showing why any authority which violates this principle is inherently illegitimate, he examines the pseudo-contractual nature of state "constitutions" and answers many objections of those who doubt the ability of men to live in a society without having everyone minding everybody else's business.

Casey also examines how law & order can exist without a violent state and how similar free societies have existed in the past. This book is solid and readable--not exactly a primer--because there is real meat here, but a great analysis of why liberty is the only moral, logical choice for human society. Buy the book. Don't get it from the library because you are going to want it on your bookshelf.

Randy England
Jefferson City, MO, USA
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read! 19 Dec 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great read and brings many good points forward that often get forgotten when discussing politics and political theory.
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