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Liberal Tradition From Fox to Keynes - Digital Book

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Long before our time, the word liberal meant: leave society alone to manage itself. In economics, it meant laissez-faire and private property. In government, it mean the rule of law. In civic life, it meant more liberty. Freedom was the watchword, the solution to whatever ailed the social order.


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"Historical knowledge is indispensable for those who want to build a better world." — Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises saw the 19th century as a "great period" fueled by a "capitalistic system of individualism." In order for us to return to such an age, we must understand how these ideas were able to capture the spirit of society, and what led to their tragic decline.

This is why this book is so important.

Originally published in 1953, this collection of essays, speeches, and book excerpts serves as a masterclass of the classical liberal tradition. Topics include war and trade, laissez-faire and natural law, education and religion, and so much more. Appropriately, the book ends with John Maynard Keynes's famous essay calling for the end to individualism, ushering in the decline of the old order.

This is an important collection for anyone who values the lessons history can teach us.

Liberalism's achievements are chronicled in the pages of this fantastic book, edited by Alan Bullock and Maurice Shock, in the words of the champions of liberalism in England from the 18th century and forward. Liberalism crushed protectionism. It achieved absolute security of private property, civil liberties for women and Jews, the end of slavery, the establishment of the freedom of association and religion, the end of mercantilism and the institutionalization of free trade, the end of torture and cruelty in penal laws, the hard-core opposition to imperialism, the celebration of the merchant class, the heralding of individualism.

Liberalism’s achievements are magnificent and sweeping. Reading through this volume with its orations and declarations, you can feel your heart racing with excitement. The statism of old was being swept away. In the minds of these great figures, there could never be too much liberty.

And yet the book also documents the change that began to overtake liberalism in the late 19th century, all resulting from what Hans Hoppe has called the great failing of liberalism: its belief that the state could itself be made liberal, benign, and even part of the structure of society itself.

And so you begin to detect a change in the narrative, all based on the myth of the possibility of good government. The first sector to fall is education, as we might expect. Then we have slippage in the area of foreign policy, stemming from the view that the state itself could become the liberator of peoples. World War I then changed everything and liberalism lost its anti-statist core and abandoned laissez-faire in economics.

The book ends with Keynes’s famous essay calling for an end to individualism. “Progress lies in the growth and the recognition of semi-autonomous bodies within the State-bodies whose criterion of action within their own field is solely the public good as they understand it.” He is critical of socialism because it is too enamored with the idea of freedom!

In any case, despite the ending, this is a wonderful collection with great lessons to teach us today. With its focus on English history, it has much to teach Americans about their own history.


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ISBN 9781610160063
eISBN 9781610164092
Publication Date 11/05/2010
Page Length 342

Liberal Tradition From Fox to Keynes
Long before our time, the word liberal meant: leave society alone to manage itself. In economics, it meant laissez-faire and private property. In gove...
Price: $14.95