Literature of Liberty: Libertarianism & Utopia

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Our quotations, taken from F.A. Hayek and F.A. Harper (founder of the Institute for Humane Studies), underline the esteem in which utopian thinking was held by two of the most persuasive advocates of liberty in the twentieth century. Hayek’s opening address at the founding of the “wild experiment” to be known as the Mont Pelerin Society (April 1, 1947) reflects this visionary element in neo-liberal thought. Present at the creation of that “experimental meeting,” the American Harper, in particular, was temperamentally optimistic about the prospects for realizing the utopian ideals of a free, prosperous, and humane society, although he well appreciated the difficulties in persuading others (see his essay, “On Teaching Principles of Liberty,” 1966). In a sense, the Institute for Humane Studies (with its interdisciplinary publications, seminars, research, and assistance to scholars of freedom) stands as a monument to the realism of “Baldy” Harper’s idealistic “utopianizing” concerning liberty…