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"A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption"
Various interest groups encamped in the District of Columbia mean we now have a special interest democracy. Find out more
If it were not for one mistaken aplication of his maxim, I would have to say that this is one of the most astounding, consistent exposition of libertarian theory in history. However, Spencer is not wholly consistent, and his main inconsistency is so important, that it cannot be safely overlooked. The lapse that I speak of is his absurd and anti-libertarian position on the private ownership of land. He believes that land cannot be rightfully held in private hands, but rather that "society" owns the land. This indeed is an extremely specious piece of logic for a man who upholds the rights of the individual over the "state," the "majority," and "society." Not only that, it mars his entire concept of a free society. Otherwise, this work represents a landmark in libertarian individualist thought. His theory of "equal freedom" is almost identical in spirit to the non-aggression maxims utilized by thinkers such as Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard. His application of of this basic axiom is also impressive. He thoroughly any function of the state beyond the absolute minimum. Even further, he even acknowledges the "Right To Ignore The State." Nevertheless, his views on the private ownership of land are so out of line that I cannot honestly give this book the degree of praise that it could have very easily earned.
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era. He is perhaps best remembered for coining the expression "survival of the fittest" in his book, The Principles of Biology; but he is also increasingly recognized for his contributions to libertarian/anarchist thought. Some of his other writings are excerpted in Herbert Spencer On Social Evolution.
He states in the Introduction of this 1851 book, "See here, then, the predicament. A system of moral philosophy professes to be a code of correct rules for the control of human beings---fitted for the regulation of the best as well as the worst members of the race---applicable, if true, to the guidance of humanity in its highest conceivable perfection. Government, however, is an institution originating in man's imperfection; an institution confessedly begotten by necessity out of evil; one which might be dispensed with were the world peopled with the unselfish, the conscientious, the philanthropic; one, in short, inconsistent with this `highest conceivable perfection.' How, then, can that be a true system of morality which adopts government as one of its premises?" (Part I, pg. 16)
In Part II, he states the famous and influential principle: "every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man." (Ch. IV, pg.Read more ›
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