Smith begins his critical examination of Brennan’s recent book by discussing the label “libertarianism” and its relationship to classical liberalism.
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.
Instead of a Review: A Commentary on Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Jason Brennan, Part 2
Smith criticizes Jason Brennan’s view of the origin of “hard libertarianism” and his treatment of Ayn Rand.
Smith criticizes Jason Brennan’s defense of positive liberty and his attempt to make positive liberty an essential part of libertarian theory.
Smith discusses some of the problems in libertarian theory caused by the many different conceptions of liberty.
Smith discusses his ideas about “strategic Taoism.”
Smith interrupts his usual series with a 30-question trivia quiz.
Smith considers the different conceptions of freedom defended by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
Smith broadens his discussion of a rights-based theory of freedom with an overview of modern political philosophy.
Smith discusses the major criticism of natural rights and the consent theory of government – that these doctrines will land us in anarchy.
In this piece, Smith discusses the difference between political obligation and political allegiance.
George H. Smith discusses a metaphor that was widely used by early libertarian writers who defended the natural equality of humankind.
George H. Smith explores some theoretical aspects of a rights-based conception of freedom.
George H. Smith discusses some of Lord Acton’s ideas about freedom and their relevance to the modern libertarian movement.
George H. Smith discusses some common criticisms of Lord Acton and other classical liberal historians.
Smith discusses Acton’s thesis that the conflict between church and state in medieval Europe was vital to the progress of freedom.
Smith explores some of the traditional biblical arguments for and against religious persecution.
Smith explains the theory of value provided the foundation for the argument that rational economic calculation is impossible in a socialistic economy.
Smith explains why Mises predicted that “planned chaos” would emerge in a socialist economy and how F.A. Hayek elaborated on that insight.