Libertarian Anarchy (Think Now) Paperback – 19 Jul 2012
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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 ( hayekcenter.org ) 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
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 "."):
"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.
Jefferson City, MO, USA
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.