Smith discusses Thomas Hodgskin’s critique of utilitarianism and his contention that the primary concern of legislators is to preserve their own power.
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.
George H. Smith begins his series on neoconservatism by exploring some of its fundamental differences with libertarianism.
Smith continues his discussion of Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner, explaining how they repudiated the ideas associated with social Darwinism.
George H. Smith interrupts his series on education with a timely discussion of social Darwinism.
Smith continues his series on the Declaration of Independence by looking to the intellectual history behind its famous reference to unalienable rights.
Smith discusses the influence of Robert LeFevre on the developing anarchism of Roy A. Childs, Jr.
Smith begins his series on Roy A. Childs, Jr., with the impact Childs’s anarchism had on his own thinking.
Smith begins his series on Thomas Hodgskin, one of the most remarkable libertarian thinkers of the nineteenth century.
Smith continues his series on the thought of Thomas Hodgskin by explaining his belief in natural property rights.
Smith explains and criticizes two more of Spencer’s arguments against private property in land.
George H. Smith examines the claim that the non-aggression principle should be viewed as a defeasible presumption.
George H. Smith discusses Buckle’s stress on the importance of ideas in the progress of civilization.
George H. Smith discusses the meaning of “natural rights” and some historical aspects of this theory.
George H. Smith discusses various formulations of the non-aggression principle and concludes with some remarks about the problem of pollution.
George H. Smith presents the rudiments of a theory of children’s rights.
George H. Smith criticizes Zwolinski’s discussions of risk, fraud, and the relationship between aggression and property rights.
Smith explains why Mises predicted that “planned chaos” would emerge in a socialist economy and how F.A. Hayek elaborated on that insight.