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The Man Versus the State Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
When Hayek said "We understand now that all enduring structures above the level of simplest atoms, and up to the brain and society, are the results of, and can be explained only in terms of, processes of selective evolution..." He was reiterating the insights that Spencer was already expounding over a century earlier. Given my current state of ignorance I believe that Herbert Spencer is the greatest intellectual of all time, with F.A. Hayek coming in a close second. It seems like the world is just beginning to catch up to Hayek. Who knows how much longer till we rediscover Spencer.
This book is a masterpiece. It has been a long time since I read it and the essay I remember most is "Over-legislation" where he does a great job criticizing government interventions into what he referred to as the social organism. He was right! We really are a social organism... or has Hayek would mention "extended order". I quote this wonderful essay often in my book.
No wonder Darwin himself said to him "Every one with eyes to see and ears to hear (the number, I fear, are not many) ought to bow their knee to you, and I for one do." and in another occasion referred to Spencer as "twenty times my superior."
These matters, however, are touched upon only briefly in this work, competently edited and provided with an erudite introduction. As the title indicates, the book expounds Spencer's views on politics and ethics rather than his contributions to sociological and anthropological theory; and the reader interested in the latter must look at his Principles of Sociology.
Spencer believed ethics ought to rest upon biology and sociology, which alone can reveal the goal of social evolution; and that the value of individual as well as collective practices can be assessed by ascertaining whether they subserve or impede the attainment of this goal. This view is based on a premise that the general direction of the march of mankind must be good.
Spencer favored laissez-faire in all matters (e.g., education policy, public health, etc.). His diatribes against the short-sightedness, inertia, pettiness and selfishness of politicians and bureaucrats retain their perennial topicality. For now, bureaucracy is the chief agent of oppression and exploitation, which endows Spencer's impassioned pleas for liberty, and his tirades against the bureaucratic octopus, with perhaps more merit today than they did when they were penned.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing! He could be a spectator of today's society, today's Congress, and misguided policies And he published it in 1884! Read morePublished 5 months ago by W. Dunning
You can see forerunners to the ideas expressed by Rothbard and other Austrian economists nestled within these pages. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Clifton Wayne Knox
Cannot believe the State has allowed this book to remain in print. A devastating indictment of the anti-social actions of the StatePublished on February 16, 2014 by R. Heuermann