Samuel Brittan's seminal 1973 work, Capitalism and the Permissive Society, explored the relationship of capitalism to personal liberty. Like Friedrich Hayek's Constitution of Liberty, the book "asserted that there was a strong link between free-market capitalism and freedom in a wider sense." At the time Brittan wrote his book, the reputation of capitalism was in disrepair, above all among intellectuals. Fifteen years later, capitalism has been resurrected. Yet, as Brittan remarks, "that case is now almost always put forward in terms of prosperity, efficiency, or 'accepting hard realities.'"
Reemphasizing the connection between capitalism and freedom, a new edition of Brittan's work is now available under a new title, A Restatement of Economic Liberalism (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 346 pp., $15 paper). Though most of the text remains unchanged from his earlier work, Brittan has added an incisive account of recent history, including the Reagan and Thatcher eras. And the original text itself builds timeless arguments to show that capitalism augments freedom.
Looking at economics and liberty in a different context is Liberty, Property, and the Foundations of the American Constitution (Albany, N.Y.: State University Press, 181 pp., $39.50/12.95), edited by Ellen Frankel Paul and Howard Dickman. Joining current debates about constitutional interpretation, the authors in this collection assess how the framers viewed property rights and economic liberties.
Another collection, Explorations into Constitutional Economics (College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M University Press, 429 pp., $48.50) pulls together diverse essays, some not previously published, by Nobel laureate James Buchanan. The essays, compiled by Robert Tollison and Viktor Vanberg, cover a wide range of topics, from the theoretical to the concrete. Tollison and Vanberg summarize Buchanan's thought by noting that "the modern Constitutional Economics of James Buchanan, like the classical political economics of Adam Smith, urges the economist to inquire how the rule of the political order and other institutional constraints under which the economy operates affect economic processes."