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The Market for Liberty [Paperback]

Morris Tannehill , Linda Tannehill , Doug Casey , Karl Hess
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1993 0930073088 978-0930073084
Some great books are the product of a lifetime of research, reflection, and labored discipline. But other classics are written in a white heat during the moment of discovery, with prose that shines forth like the sun pouring into the window of a time when a new understanding brings in the world into focus for the first time.

The Market for Liberty is that second type of classic, and what a treasure it is. Written by two authors-Morris and Linda Tannehill-just following a period of intense study of the writings of both Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard, it has the pace, energy, and rigor you would expect from an evening's discussion with either of these two giants.

More than that, these authors put pen to paper at precisely the right time in their intellectual development, that period rhapsodic freshness when a great truth had been revealed, and they had to share it with the world. Clearly, the authors fell in love with liberty and the free market, and wrote an engaging, book-length sonnet to these ideas.

This book is very radical in the true sense of that term: it gets to the root of the problem of government and provides a rethinking of the whole organization of society. They start at the beginning with the idea of the individual and his rights, work their way through exchange and the market, expose government as the great enemy of mankind, and then-and here is the great surprise-they offer a dramatic expansion of market logic into areas of security and defense provision.

169 page softcover

Editorial Reviews


The fundamental question of politics has always been whether there should be politics. Morris and Linda Tannehill, in this book, which has become something of a classic even while being (until now) out of print, answer that politics is not necessary, that the ancient and ongoing contrivance of the marketplace can be substituted for it with ennobling results. -- Karl Hess, author of Capitalism for Kids

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The following is the Foreword by Karl Hess.

The most interesting political questions throughout history have been whether or not humans will be ruled or free, whether they will be responsible for their actions as individuals or left irresponsible as members of society, and whether they can live in peace by volitional agreements alone.

The fundamental question of politics has always been whether there should be politics.

Morris and Linda Tannehill, in this book, which has become something of a classic even while being (until now) out of print, answer that politics is not necessary, that the ancient and ongoing contrivance of the marketplace can be substituted for it with ennobling results.

Advocates of state power will of course recoil from the idea and point out that it is all idle dreaming, that the state has always existed and must always exist lest brutal humans descend into, horrors, anarchy. They are correct, of course. Without the state there would be anarchy for that is, despite all of the perfervid ravings of the Marxist Left and statist Right, all that anarchy means--the absence of the state, the opportunity for liberty.

As for the direction that a world headed for liberty would be taking (descending or ascending) the Tannehills and many others have reviewed the record of the nation state and have discovered a curiously powerful fact. The nation state has never been associated with peace on earth. Its most powerful recommendation and record is, as a matter of fact, as a wager of war. The history of nation states is written around the dates of wars, not peace, around arms and not arts. The organization of warfare without the coercive power of the nation state is simply unimaginable at the scale with which we have become familiar.

Having shown no capacity whatsoever to bring peace to earth, then what is the claim of the state on our allegiance? In closely reasoned arguments, the Tannehills maintain that there should be no claim at all; that the state is not needed at any point in our lives and that other, volitional, arrangements can be substituted for every single state function. They see these arrangements operating in the framework of a truly free market and they carefully explain them.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 169 pages
  • Publisher: Fox & Wilkes (December 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930073088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930073084
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,440,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important volume in the case for liberty November 8, 1999
By A Customer
Actually, as any Austrian economist including Murray Rothbard would have told independentwhig, the existence of a free market that serves the "subjective" (which does not mean "arbitrary") desires (not "whims") of consumers _requires_ a foundation in objective "natural" law -- and such a foundation positively precludes the existence of a parasitic State.
Opponents of anarchocapitalism (including those who, like our apparently Randian friend below, speak Objectivese rather than English) have never come satisfactorily to grips with the fact that market-based law not only is possible but has actually existed. In order for anarchocapitalism to work, what is required is that objective "natural" law be permitted to affect the preferences of "consumers of law," so that the legal system consumers tend to prefer is one that is aligned with the nature of reality. That system _is_ the libertarian system of individual rights and private property. There is no need to impose it from the "top down," because it is what consumers would generate from the "bottom up" precisely in order to secure the conditions for the best and most efficient fulfillment of their "subjective" wants.
Morris and Linda Tannehill provide here an imaginative account of how various "State" functions might actually be fulfilled by the free market, and indeed fulfilled _better_ than any State could do. Ignore the opinions of people who don't know what they're talking about and consider their case on its own merits.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Work November 22, 2003
By A Customer
If you care about freedom, read this book. The passages about Defense particularly are illuminating. Government is not anything magic. It is comprised of people of no more ability than anyone else and only can be funded from the resources of the individuals that live under the government's rule. The other reviewers mustn't have read the book very carefully. They selected a quote about objective law, but neglected to communicate that there is only one law/principle in the free society that Morris and Tannehill describe--no individual shall infringe on the property or person of another through force or fraud. There is no such thing as a body of law in the way that we are taught to think of it in civics class. Read the book for yourself.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the role of government November 22, 2002
This book was a fascinating read. When I began reading it book, I was quite sceptical that government could be practically eradicated. By the end of it, I wasn't convinced. The chapters devoted to the subject of defense and the waging of war I found particularly interesting, if a bit unrealistic. Everybody ought to read a book like this, just to explore the ideas it contains. Late in the book, it discusses the power of ideas. Ideas are definitely the most powerful force in the universe and if a majority of people were aware of ideas such as the ones discussed in this book, we would be well on the way towards building a far better world (not perfect of course as that is impossible).
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An-archy is rules without _rulers_. December 13, 2006
I have always found it interesting how businessmen (and women) are simultaneously depicted as predatory and ultra-conservative (as in against change). Yet it is only those businesses that benefit from government intervention, the "arms dealers" of old and the "defense contractors" as they are called now, who benefit from predation.

When examined closely, business thrives when there is peace, by catering to peoples differences just as much as their commonalities. No one makes a fortune by selling 500 very expensive refrigerators to the nobility. No, they get rich by selling 500,000,000 inexpensive refrigerators, to living and productive customers.

It's easy to say that one's particular special interest can only be provided by government: some would consider private roads but not "national defense"; others would consider private law enforcement but not private health care.

But all that ignores the fact that every service at one time or another through history has been provided privately. There are many times more private security agents in the US than there are government police. Private business and even employment contracts increasingly stipulate private arbitration as their recourse in disputes rather than law suits in government courts.

Why? Because of cost. Private security, private arbitration, are demonstrably more efficient than government police and government courts.

Tannehill has taken the efficiency of market competition and extended it to many aspects of what are usually considered "public goods", and done it in one volume.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant classic December 13, 2003
I checked this book out from the library and liked it so much I'm going to have to add one to my collection.
The Tannehills make a stronger case for liberty and a free market in all commodities, even law and protection, than even Murray Rothbard does. I have to admit that I had my doubts when I sat down to read this book, but by the end I had to conceed that even if the system wasn't completely worked out(after all, how can you work out a system based on the free choices of individuals before the fact), it was at least possible.
The gentleman who cited the passage about objective law tried to misrepresent the position of the authors. They do indeed believe that objective law is fundamental and immutable, based only on the objective nature of man humself. However, when they talk about "subjective whims" they are actually refering to legislators, and their irrational quest to enact statuatory law divorced from reality, as in fact they themselves are. It is not the subjective whims of the market that are the cause of our present troubles, but those of the government. The Tannehills simply argue that, by removing the pretended authority of government to "create" law, market law will eveolve that much closer to objective, natural law.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Walt Parker Morris Tannehill was my father
I am the son of Morris tannehill and lived with him and his wife at the time this book was written. I had every word read to me each evening as he finished a section. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Walt Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Government is the problem.
It clearly shows the real nature of government and a way to get rid of it. As long as there is government there'll be no solution to the calamities that government inevitably... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jorge Trucco
3.0 out of 5 stars It wasn't as good as I expected...
I'm still reading but haven't been wowed like I figured I would be. Worth the money, though. (three more words)
Published 13 months ago by Bret L Berry
5.0 out of 5 stars Please Read
The only way for the world to become Utopian is for people to live a Utopian existence. As a teenager I learned that required living a life where I committed no theft. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the Tannehills
Great read for independent thinkers. They make good points for free enterprise and free commerce; and they challenge conventional malarkey!!!!!
Published 15 months ago by Linda Bosserman
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book!
I consider this book a must read for any free-market thinkers. The authors did a great job filling in a few gaps I had after reading Rothbard's For a New Liberty, particularly... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Evan N. Papadakis
5.0 out of 5 stars Market for Liberty in a world ever more fearful OF liberty
I read this as a free eBook from, and found it so it to be the most compelling description of how a government-less society can work, so I ordered the book in paper form... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Larry J
5.0 out of 5 stars Market for Liberty
Great book. Classic. It is not surprising that this 40-year-old book has brought a lot of people to Anarcho-Capitalism. I could highly recommend it.
Published 23 months ago by Alexander Maslinkovskiy
5.0 out of 5 stars eye-opening!
I very much enjoyed having my eyes opened to how the free market might solve problems that I had previously assumed only government could solve.
Published on March 22, 2012 by Peter Burchhardt
2.0 out of 5 stars Suffers from the standard objectivist flaws, and then some
This book had the potential to be valuable, but it asserts a lot more than it argues. If you're not already convinced, this book will not convince you. Read more
Published on March 2, 2012 by Signum Ignitum
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