Libertarianism Today Review

Huebert’s Libertarianism Today has received high praise as an introductory taste of libertarianism at its consistent, radical best by both David Gordon and Walter Block.  This praise is deserved.  In a concise 11 chapters, and under 250 pages, Heubert manages to survey nearly every aspect of libertarian philosophy, tie those theories to current events, and even add a hint of his own insight.

The most rewarding thing about reading this is that Heubert remains truly radical, even while explaining situations where some libertarians deviate from his own views.  He mentions paleoconservatives’ views on minarchism and immigration as deviations from libertarianism.  He also takes time to explain the nuanced view libertarians hold on morality (as it relates to government authority), especially within the context of gay marriage and abortion.  As a libertarian who is morally opposed to both, I appreciated this insight.  He argues that while many libertarians support both same-sex marriage and abortion, it is not strictly-speaking libertarian to do so.  The libertarian stance is that the government should not be involved in marriage at all, and of course libertarians’ view of abortion cannot be summarized.  They are just as divisive as any other group on the issue, albeit they take more time than most to philosophically analyze the dilemma.  As a believer in libertarian education and (gulp) conversion as a means to affect change, I cannot overstate the importance of these insights on social issues.  These issues, combined with war, are holding the libertarian movement back from reaching traditional conservatives who blindly vote Republican.  A gentle, page-long stab at Reagan’s iffy record on debt and spending also serves as a spoonful of medicine for right-wingers.

Another useful aspect of this book is the addition of topical reading lists at the end of each chapter.  These are not the footnotes, exactly, although there is some crossover.  For example, Chapter 3 on economics deals with the issues a decently read Austrian econ nerd might expect, such as economists who predicted the 2008 crisis, money and banking, and the Federal Reserve.  The “Further Reading” section lists Meltdown by Woods, End the Fed by Ron Paul, What has Government Done to Our Money by Rothbard, and Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt.  These books may not be canonical contributions to libertarian thought, but they are all extremely valuable as introductions to further exploration for a beginner.

Huebert writes chapters on marijuana, healthcare, education, constitutional law, gun rights, war, and even intellectual property, describing these issues using application of libertarian theory of property rights and non-aggression.  It is a principled and up to date book that fits the needs of the current times. If you want to know what it means to be a libertarian, but don’t want to read What it Means to Be a Libertarian, read Libertarianism Today.

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