Libertarian History, Online


Some great new resources of libertarian history (a subject, ahem, near to my heart) have come up online of late. Perhaps the niftiest, due to the combination of rarity and importance, is a full set of the late 19th century journal Liberty, edited by leading American individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker. 403 issues!

The interface ain't pretty, but it's there. Here's issue one , from Aug 6, 1881. And the last issue, from April 1908. And here's Wendy McElroy's amazing index to the mag.

Also relatively fresh to the web, via the Mises Institute, is a full .pdf of Rose Wilder Lane's classic The Discovery of Freedom, one of three books by female libertarian intellectuals that came out in 1943 and laid the foundationstone of the modern libertarian movement. Here's a Feb. 2005 reason review essay by me that discussed Lane and her two colleagues Isabel Paterson and Ayn Rand.

And anarcho-capitalist history from the Mises Institute in the form of The Market for Liberty (1970), by Morris and Linda Tannehill, trying to explain how a loveable, liveable modernity could function with no state at all. Here's how they sum up their goals with the book:

The society we propose is based on one fundamental principle: No man or group of men—including any group of men calling themselves "the government"—is morally entitled to initiate (that is, to start) the use of physical force, the threat of force, or any substitute for force (such as fraud) against any other man or group of men. This means that no man, no gang, and no government may morally use force in even the smallest degree against even the most unimportant individual so long as that individual has not himself initiated force.1 Some individuals will choose to initiate force; how to deal with them justly occupies a major part of this book. But, although such aggressions will probably never by fully eliminated, rational men can construct a society which will discourage them rather than institutionalizing them as an integral part of its social structure.

Of course, our knowledge of what a truly free society would be like is far from complete. When men are free to think and produce, they innovate and improve everything around them at a startling rate, which means that only the bare outlines of the structure and functioning of a free society can be seen prior to its actual establishment and operation. But more than enough can be reasoned out to
prove that a truly free society—one in which the initiation of force would be dealt with justly instead of institutionalized in the form of a government—is feasible. By working from what is already known, it is possible to show in general how a free society would operate and to answer fully and satisfactorily the common questions about
and objections to such a society.

Jesse Walker blogged about the online version of a more obscure 19th century individualist anarchist journal Lucifer the Light Bringer.

The dedicated site for my own libertarian history.