Smith continues his discussion of Hodgskin by exploring some of the key arguments in his neglected book on economics, Popular Political Economy.
The purpose of these Excursions is to explore the fascinating and complex history of libertarian ideas. Over four decades of reading, writing, and lecturing on the history of libertarianism have taught Smith an important lesson, namely, that the theories of some early libertarian thinkers were sometimes better and more sophisticated than the theories we take for granted today.
George H. Smith
George H. Smith was formerly Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Humane Studies, a lecturer on American History for Cato Summer Seminars, and Executive Editor of Knowledge Products. Smith's fourth and most recent book, The System of Liberty, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.
Smith discusses the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and why it so alarmed the defenders of natural rights.
Smith discusses Thomas Hodgskin’s critique of utilitarianism and his contention that the primary concern of legislators is to preserve their own power.
George H. Smith begins his series on Spencer’s pessimistic outlook on the future of freedom and the reasons behind it.
George H. Smith discusses the controversy about Spencer’s use of opium and its possible effect on his later pessimism.
George H. Smith discusses Spencer’s opposition to the Boer War—a cause that dominated the last several years of his life.
George H. Smith discusses Spencer’s theory of social progress, while calling attention to some of its theoretical problems.
George H. Smith discusses some of Spencer’s concerns about the intellectual and moral obstacles to achieving a free society.
Smith discusses how Herbert Spencer’s analyses of nineteenth-century Germany and France contributed to his pessimistic outlook on the future of freedom.
George H. Smith discusses Spencer’s fear that democracy will destroy freedom in the long run.
Smith analyzes two kinds of freedom, pragmatic and moral, and gives examples of how this distinction has been used in the history of libertarian thought.
Smith begins his series on Roy A. Childs, Jr., with the impact Childs’s anarchism had on his own thinking.
Smith discusses the influence of Robert LeFevre on the developing anarchism of Roy A. Childs, Jr.
Smith begins his series on Ayn Rand’s critique of altruism with a discussion of the ideas of Auguste Comte, the man who coined the word “altruism.”
George H. Smith discusses one of Rand’s major objections to both altruism and the traditional concept of egoism.
George H. Smith explores Ayn Rand’s contention that altruism plays an indispensable role in the justification of political collectivism.
George H. Smith discusses Ayn Rand’s notion of self-sacrifice and the crucial role that duty played in her theory of altruism.
George H. Smith discusses why Ayn Rand believed that altruism is incompatible with benevolence and charitable actions.