- Paperback: 169 pages
- Publisher: Fox & Wilkes (December 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0930073088
- ISBN-13: 978-0930073084
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,502,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Market for Liberty
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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.
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"The Market for Liberty" is even more relevant today than it was when it first appeared in 1970. Though the authors use the term "laissez-faire" to refer to the social order they advocate, they make the case for what is often today referred to as anarcho-capitalism. Their laissez-faire society is absent government-as-we've-known-it. There is no legal coercive order, not even a "night watchman state." All goods and services, including and especially those claimed to be the exclusive province of government, can and should be provided on the market.
The Tannehills' treatise is rock-solid realistic in virtually all respects. Here, for example, is how they begin "Chapter 13. Foreign Aggression":
## Many people ask, “But how in the world could a laissez-faire society deal with aggression by foreign nations, since it would have no government to protect it?” Behind this question are two unrealized assumptions: first, that government is some sort of extra-societal entity with resources of its own . . . and, second, that government does, in fact, defend its citizens.
## In reality, government must draw all its resources from the society over which it rules. When a governmentally controlled society takes defensive action against an aggression by a foreign power, where does it get the resources necessary to take that action? The men who fight are private individuals, usually conscripted into government service. The armaments are produced by private individuals working at their jobs. The money to pay for these armaments and the pittance doled out to the conscripts, as well as the money to pay the salaries of that small minority comprising the other members of the armed forces, is confiscated from private individuals by means of taxation. Government’s only contribution is to organize the whole effort by the use of force—the force of the draft, taxation, and other, more minor coercions, such as rationing, wage and price ceilings, travel restrictions, etc. So, to maintain that government is necessary to defend a society from foreign aggression is to maintain that it is necessary to use domestic aggression against the citizens in order to protect them from foreign aggression.##
Further on they write,
##Throughout history, people have been talked into submitting to the tyrannies of their governments because, they were told, their government was vitally necessary to protect them from the even more terrible depredations of other governments. The governments, having put over this bit of propaganda, then proceeded to cajole and coerce their citizens into **protecting them!** Governments never defend their citizens; they can’t. What they do is make the citizens defend them, usually after their stupid and imperialistic policies have aggravated or threatened another government to the point of armed conflict. Governmental protection against foreign aggression is a myth (but a myth which, sad to say, most people actually believe in).##
They understand the relationship of big business, government, and war:
##It is perfectly true that there is a fascistic alliance between government and many businesses in our present society and that this league results in the military-industrial-university complex which firmly supports the government and its imperialistic policies. The question is, what is the cause of this unholy alliance?##
I invite the reader to discover their answer to this and many other questions that usually arise in a discussion of a stateless society.
As anyone attuned to the news is aware, the current prospects of war with nuclear-armed nations make the Tannehills' treatise a vital must-read if we wish to preserve life on planet earth.
This reads like a poor CliffNote mash-up of Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand. I had an inkling of trouble in the first chapter when the authors try to sell sacrifice as being anti-life. Obviously they don't have children. They do try to justify this ridiculousness by saying sacrificing for ones children isn't sacrifice... . If I wanted double-plus-good-duck-speak I would listen to a primary speech or two. It gets a bit better after this opening debacle, but not enough to matter. In a world where anarchy works every day towards making peoples lives better, they lack concrete examples. This book offers nothing to the already initiated and even less to those who aren't.
I've been all over the political and ideological spectrum throughout my life, but this was the first time I'd seen a concise, consistent and well-written explanation of a very basic concept. The impact of coming to understand the free market, why it works and how it impacts me has filled me with a sense of confidence, understanding and empowerment. This isn't a self-help book, but I challenge anyone to read it, understand it and then not use the concepts introduced in it to improve your life.
This book is a mind blower for anyone who doesn't already consider themselves a free marketeer, a voluntaryist, anarcho-capitalist or the like.
The Tannehills evaluate human nature and social conditioning to set the stage for the very foundations of the market and then go on to explain what the market actually is, why it works, and why interfering with it is both a stupid and impossible task.
They then begin evaluating various goods and services, from washing machines to currencies, from hair color to police services and explain why these services are best left to the marketplace. Morris and Linda then begin offering arguments to their own position, including most of the common arguments against "capitalism" and proceed to tear these down with sound logic and real world examples.
I can not recommend this book more highly. I got a free audio book of it, loved it and passed it on. I bought several printed copies of this book to pass on to friends and in two cases, even strangers.