In this piece, Smith discusses the difference between political obligation and political allegiance.
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 broadens his discussion of a rights-based theory of freedom with an overview of modern political philosophy.
Smith considers the different conceptions of freedom defended by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
Smith discusses his ideas about “strategic Taoism.”
Smith discusses some of the problems in libertarian theory caused by the many different conceptions of liberty.
Smith criticizes Jason Brennan’s defense of positive liberty and his attempt to make positive liberty an essential part of libertarian theory.
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 begins his critical examination of Brennan’s recent book by discussing the label “libertarianism” and its relationship to classical liberalism.
George H. Smith discusses why Ayn Rand believed that altruism is incompatible with benevolence and charitable actions.
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 explores Ayn Rand’s contention that altruism plays an indispensable role in the justification of political collectivism.
George H. Smith discusses one of Rand’s major objections to both altruism and the traditional concept of egoism.
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.
George H. Smith discusses Spencer’s fear that democracy will destroy freedom in the long run.
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 theory of social progress, while calling attention to some of its theoretical problems.
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 begins his series on Spencer’s pessimistic outlook on the future of freedom and the reasons behind it.