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essays

Without Reform, the Communists Will Win

by Wordsworth Donisthorpe in 1880

In our first selection from The Claims of Labour, Donisthorpe surveys his philosophy, purpose, and method of unifying capitalists and laborers.

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Race and the American Union

by John L. O'Sullivan in 1838

Tocqueville believed that America’s race problems could destroy the Union, but O’Sullivan naively argues that Manifest Destiny was unavoidable.

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In Defense of Lawyers (Sort Of)

by John L. O'Sullivan in 1838

John L. O’Sullivan challenges Tocqueville, arguing that he misrepresented democracy and misidentified American aristocracy.

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“No Treason,” Annotated: Part V

by Lysander Spooner in 1870

In his conclusion, Spooner targets the shadow-governing class of elites who use civic religion to manipulate a public unwilling to govern themselves.

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The Lightning Rod Man

by Herman Melville in 1856

Melville’s short story echoes his generation of artists’ widespread fears for America’s future. Without sufficient individual virtue, could polite society survive?

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A Rawlsian Case for Libertarianism

by Kevin Vallier on Jan 3, 2017

The ethical system of John Rawls, properly understood, justifies libertarian political institutions.

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“No Treason,” Annotated: Part IV

by Lysander Spooner in 1870

Spooner exposes the great Government Conspiracy and seeks to assign moral responsibility for the actions of a criminal gang shielded by mythological legitimacy.

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“No Treason,” Annotated: Part III

by Lysander Spooner in 1870

Spooner disabuses us of the notion that paying taxes or voting is equivalent to offering one’s consent to be governed.

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“No Treason,” Annotated: Part II

by Lysander Spooner in 1867

Having dispensed with the idea of consent to government, Spooner pivots to ask—Whose Constitution is it, anyway?

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“No Treason,” Annotated: Part I

by Lysander Spooner in 1867

Spooner begins his most important work by attacking the idea that we have consented to be governed by the United States government.

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An Ethical Intuitionist Case for Libertarianism

by Michael Huemer on Jan 3, 2017

The justification of libertarian political institutions follows logically from relatively uncontroversial moral intuitions held by a broad range of reasonable people.