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Defending the Undefendable Paperback – May 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933550171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933550176
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In the classic Defending the Undefendable, Austrian School economist Dr. Walter Block makes both moral and utilitarian cases for completely laissez-faire capitalism -- no exceptions! The premise of the book is, if freedom to choose can be defended and even celebrated when it comes to the prostitute, the pimp, the drug user, and other social pariahs, then certainly that same freedom should be afforded to everyone else. These supposedly "undefendable" figures, Dr. Block shows, are not only "defendable" but actually heroic.

For example, the drug dealer: He is only providing a product that is in demand to a customer who demands it. It isn't the drugs themselves that promote crime, says Block (with supporting evidence included), but the high cost of the drugs -- and that high cost is a direct result of the drugs' prohibition. To the extent that the drug dealer braves the dangers of the black market to supply drugs to willing customers, he is putting downward pressure on the substances' prices, thereby reducing the likelihood of drug-related crimes against people and property. In this sense, the drug dealer is not only not a bad guy, but indeed a hero.

Libertarians are already very familiar with arguments (moral and utilitarian) for the legalization of drugs and prostitution. But what about blackmailers, slanderers, and libelers? Block takes up their cause. My favorite chapter features Block's analysis of "crooked" cops actually being superior to "honest" cops. After all, the crooked cop gives non-violent "criminals" (i.e. drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, johns, etc.) the choice of paying a bribe or going to jail, while the honest cop gives them no such choice and instead kidnaps and confines them for their non-crimes.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By JJohnson on February 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This work by Dr. Walter Block makes full use of applying the cornerstone of libertarian philosophy, the non-aggression axiom, to those who are viewed as the dregs of our society.
The author's introduction gives a quick summary of the libertarian view that as long as there is no initiation of aggression (violence, coercion, etc); anything we do amongst ourselves cannot be considered unjust. He applies this view to the profession of the prostitute, the oft-vilified drug user and drug pusher, the "typical" fat capitalist pig, and many others in a who's who of vile people, and shows through exemplary examples and illustrations how these people often end up contributing to society in ways that the public, which despises them most often, takes for granted and fails to notice.
The tone of this book is very fun to read, and the ease of it's use is reminiscent of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics, while it's philosophical insight and rigorous defense and application of the non-aggression axiom makes it seem almost as if it were an epilogue to The Ethics of Liberty, by Murray Rothbard.
I recommend this book to any student of economics, seeker of liberty, or any open minded individual ready to see the unseen, and maybe take up the case for defending the undefendable

I hope everyone appreciates the cheesy way I ended this review.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. W. Holtzapple on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this unique book, economics professor Walter Block defends people who follow controversial practices. Each chapter is devoted to a different type of person - most of whom the average American would consider the lowest of the low. Pimps, drug pushers, blackmailers, ticket scalpers, dishonest cops, slumlords, litterers, fat capitalist pigs, and child labor employers to name a few of the more than 30 practices discussed in this book.

After reading "Defending", one is not meant to come away with a new found appreciation for sex workers, outlaws or cheats, it is merely a book meant to make you think - and it does just that. It is meant to release you from the bonds of mainstream thinking and get you to open your mind and ask yourself, "why is this practice so bad?" It teaches you to think for yourself and how to stand up and defend your own positions. After reading this book I came away with a great respect for Dr. Block because through his book I had received a great lesson in critical thinking.

If you want to read an entertaining, politically incorrect book that really makes you open your mind, read "Defending the Undefendable" by Walter Block. Regardless of your opinion of the practices discussed within its pages you will find yourself enjoying its contents immensely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrei Yashurin on February 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Walter Block wrote, perhaps, one of the best introductions to the basic tenets of the libertarian thought. By analyzing cases of various outcasts of our society, he makes it clear that social engineering doesn't work. The more government tries to control those things that seem to be "immoral" or "unjust", the worse life becomes to all.

Why the society wouldn't allow consenting adults to do whatever they want (of course, if they don't initiate violence against others)? If something is immoral to us, we are free not to do it. If some deal seems to be unfair, we are free to avoid it. But we have no business to restrict others from those activities. Freedom is moral, and it is beneficial from the practical standpoint. That is a plain common sense.
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