The Liberal Institute presents and recommends a choice of significant classical and current books part of a pluralistic liberal tradition. All books ordered through this page with our partner Amazon also contribute to financing the Liberal Institute.
We wish you a pleasant and stimulating read.
Open: The Story of Human Progress
Humanity's embrace of openness is the key to our success. The freedom to explore and exchange - whether it's goods, ideas or people - has led to stunning achievements in science, technology and culture. As a result, we live at a time of unprecedented wealth and opportunity. So why are we so intent on ruining it?From Stone Age hunter-gatherers to contemporary Chinese-American relations, Open explores how across time and cultures, we have struggled with a constant tension between our yearning for co-operation and our profound need for belonging. Providing a bold new framework for understanding human history, bestselling author and thinker Johan Norberg examines why we're often uncomfortable with openness - but also why it is essential for progress. Part sweeping history and part polemic, this urgent book makes a compelling case for why an open world with an open economy is worth fighting for more than ever.
Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity
With the global economy recovering from a steep recession, and with that recovery challenging our long-held ideas about what careers and the market can be, learning the basics of economics has never been more essential. Principles such as gains from trade, the role of profit and loss, and the secondary effects of government spending, taxes, and borrowing risk continue to be critically important to the way America's economy functions, and critically important to understand for those hoping to further their professional lives - even their personal lives. Common Sense Economics discusses key points and theories, using them to show how any reader can make wiser personal choices and form more informed positions on policy.
Now in its third edition, this fully updated classic from James D. Gwartney, Richard L. Stroup, Dwight R. Lee, and Tawni H. Ferrarini reflects on the recession and the progress that's been made since the crash; it offers insight into political processes and the many ways in which economics informs policy, illuminating our world and what might be done to make it better.
Totalitarianism, Terrorism and Supreme Values: History and Theory
Applying a rational choice perspective, this book presents a dynamic theory of the evolution of totalitarian regimes and terrorism. By demonstrating that totalitarian regimes rest on ideologies involving supreme values that are assumed to be absolutely true, the author identifies the factors that lead to totalitarian regimes, and those that transform or abolish those regimes with time. The author addresses different ideologies, such as National Socialism, Communism, and religious movements; examines numerous historical cases of totalitarian regimes; and develops a formal, mathematical model of totalitarianism in the book's closing chapter.
Germaine de Stael and Benjamin Constant: A Dual Biography
When they first met in 1794, shortly after the Reign of Terror, Germaine de Stael and Benjamin Constant were both in their twenties, both married, and both outsiders. She was already celebrated and a published writer, whereas he, though ambitious, was unknown. This compelling dual biography tells the extraordinary story of their union and disunion, set against a European background of momentous events and dramatic social and cultural change. Renee Winegarten offers new perspectives on each of the protagonists, revealing their rare qualities and their all-too-human failings as well as the complex nature of their debt to one another.Their passionate and productive relationship endured on and off for seventeen years. Winegarten traces their story largely through their own words in letters and autobiographical writings, and illuminates the deep intellectual and visceral bond they shared despite disparate personalities and gifts.
We the Living
We the Living depicts the struggle of the individual against the state, and the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. This classic novel is not a story of politics, but of the men and women who fight for existence within a totalitarian state.
The Tragedy of the Euro
Philipp Bagus, professor of economics at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, is a young scholar with a large influence, having forecast all the problems with the Euro and having persuaded many economists on the Continent that this currency is no better than any fiat currency. In some ways it is much worse because it has cartelized the management of European monetary regimes and created a terrible moral hazard.
We often hear analysis of the workings of the Fed. Discussion of the European Central Bank is more rare. Bagus compares the two institutions to show a fundamental difference. Member states of the ECB can run deficits and expect them to be financed by the ECB. This is not true with the Fed. So Europe has a tragedy of the commons at work with its monetary policy that sets up very dangerous incentives for member states. For this reason, the system is unworkable.
With this book, Professor Bagus brings his scholarship to English readers, explaining the background to the idea of European unity and its heritage of sound money. He explains that the Euro is not what the older classical liberals had hoped for but instead is a politically managed money that is destined for failure.
He writes with a keen sense for economic analytics and empirical detail, offering one of the most accessible and yet rigorous accounts of the emergence of the Euro. He predicts its downfall due to political pressures, bad banking practices, and exploding public-sector liabilities.
The analogies with the dollar are indeed close, but with welfare states at a more advanced stage, it will be a race to see which paper currency will crumble first.
Professor Bagus brings theoretical power to investigating one of the most important topics in economics today. His arguments and evidence convinced even Jesus Huerta de Soto to withdraw support for the Euro. For this reason, de Soto has written the introduction to this important work.
Political Economy, Public Policy and Monetary Economics: Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian Tradition
"Given the current global economic crisis, with its origins in a credit crisis, and the failure of modern macroeconomics to provide an adequate theory for the links between the credit markets and the economy, the economics profession badly needs new insights into the role of credit and expectations in causing economic fluctuations. It could learn from the ideas and policy recommendations of those economists who lived through the Great Depression. Von Mises was one of those great economists. This book is a welcome invitation to examine the ideas of von Mises and the Austrian school on such vitally important subjects." Jagdish Handa, McGill University
"In an era in which we are seeing increased interest in studying economic theorists from the Great Depression, Ebeling has done a great service in writing a fresh work on a figure who has been greatly neglected in recent years. Ludwig von Mises merits more attention whether one ultimately agrees with him or not." James E. Hartley, Mount Holyoke College
Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country?
It is well known that the radical libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick sharply distinguished his vision of the free society from egalitarian liberals such as John Rawls. Less remarked upon is the distinction he drew between the free society governed by a strictly limited government, commonly referred to as 'minarchism', and the society without any government at all - anarchism.In this volume, the editors, Long - an anarchist, and Machan - a minarchist, have brought together a selection of specially commissioned essays from the key theorists actively involved in this debate. Each tackles the question of whether or not a government forms a legitimate part of a free society from a variety of perspectives or whether anarchy/minarchy is merely a distinction without a difference.
Why is competition between institutions usually viewed in a negative light, when competition is considered positive in most other economic contexts? The contributors to this volume introduce new perspectives on this issue, analytically and empirically exploring reasons for this perception. Negative assessments of institutional competition emphasize that such competition may lead to a race to the bottom in terms of eroding government revenues, redistributing wealth from workers to capitalists, and limiting democracy by forcing politicians to prioritize international investment capital rather than working for their voters. In this volume, however, many of the essays draw attention to the positive learning and information effects. The contributors conclude that competition may actually lead to institutions becoming more efficient in allocating resources.
Andreas Bergh and Rolf Höijer
1. The Concept of Institutional Competition
2. A History of Thought on Institutional Competition
3. Learning Through Institutional Competition
4. Institutional Competition: International Environment, Levels and Consequences
5. Can Competition Between Governments Enhance Democracy?
Viktor J. Vanberg
6. Tax Competition and Tax Cartels
7. Fiscal Competition and the Optimization of Tax Revenues for Higher Growth
8. A Race to the Bottom for the Big Welfare States?
9. Fiscal Federalism and Economic Growth in OECD Countries
Lars P. Feld
10. Asia's Giants in the World Economy: China and India
The Ethics of Liberty
This work is a rigorous and philosophically sophisticated exposition of the libertarian political position. It roots the case for freedom in the concept of natural rights and applies it to a host of practical problems. It concludes that a social order that strictly adheres to the rights of private property must exclude the institutionalized violence inherent in the state.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
The foundations of capitalism are being battered by a flood of altruism, which is the cause of the modern world's collapse. This is the view of Ayn Rand, a view so radically opposed to prevailing attitudes that it constitutes a major philosophic revolution. In this series of essays, she presents her stand on the persecution of big business, the causes of war, the student rebellion, and the evils of altruism.
Human Action: A Treatise on Economics
Mises attributes the tremendous technological progress and the consequent increase in wealth and general welfare in the last two centuries to the introduction of liberal government policies based on free-market economic teachings, creating an economic and political environment which permits individuals to pursue their respective goals in freedom and peace. Mises also explains the futility and counter-productiveness of government attempts to regulate, control, and equalize all people's circumstances: "Men are born unequal and...it is precisely their inequality that generates social cooperation and civilization."
Ludwig von Mises: The Man and His Economics
Austrian-born economist Ludwig von Mises (who died in 1973) was a professor at New York University for nearly 25 years, until 1969. A free-market advocate who believed in the power of the consumer, Mises was one of the leading members of what is called "the Austrian school of economics." There are already any number of scholarly works that examine Mises' life and his theories. This latest book, though, is part of a new series called Library of Modern Thinkers, which is designed to make the ideas of less well known sociologists, political scientists, and economists accessible to a more general audience. Kirzner, author of Discovery, Capitalism, and Distributive Justice (1989), was a student and ardent admirer of Mises. He sketches a brief biographical portrait of his former professor to provide "the human and historical context within which Mises' intellectual contributions emerged." Kirzner then examines Mises' impact on contemporary economics, outlines his methodology, and summarizes his key ideas--focusing on the market process, money, cycles, interest, and free markets.
Simple Rules for a Complex World
It is often considered that too many laws is one of the necessary consequences of a complex society. Many insist that any call for legal simplification smacks of nostalgia and sentimentality. Richard Epstein believes, however, that the conventional view has it backward. The richer texture of American modern society allows for more individual freedom and choice, permitting the organization of a comprehensive legal order capable of meeting the technological and social challenges of today on the basis of just six core principles. The first four rules, which regulate human interactions in ordinary social life, concern the autonomy of the individual, property, contract and tort. Taken together these rules establish and protect consistent entitlements over all resources, both human and natural. These rules are backstopped by two more rules that permit forced exchanges on payment of just compensation when private or public necessity so dictates. Epstein then uses these six building blocks to clarify several intractable problems in the modern legal landscape. His discussion of employment contracts explains the hidden virtues of contracts at will and exposes the weaknesses of laws regarding collective bargaining, unjust dismissal, employer discrimination and comparable worth. Epstein's analysis shows how laws governing liability for products and professional services, corporate transactions and environmental protection have generated unnecessary social strife and economic dislocation by violating these basic principles. This text offers an agenda for social reform that undoes many of the problems of the modern regulatory state. At a time when most Americans have come to distrust and fear government at all levels, Epstein shows how a consistent application of economic and political theory allows us to steer a middle path between too much and too little.
The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey Into How the World's Poorest People Are Educating Themselves
Everyone from Bono to the United Nations is looking for a miracle to bring schooling within reach of the poorest children on Earth. The author found one hiding in plain sight. While researching private schools in India for the World Bank, and worried he was doing little to help the poor, he wandered into the slums of Hyderabad's Old City.
From Subsistence to Exchange and Other Essays
"For half a century, Peter Bauer has been a towering iconoclast among development economists, consistently unafraid to demolish conventional wisdom with penetrating insight... [T]his excellent collection of essays... [is] a wonderful introduction to a mind that takes no prisoners. -- The Economist Whether or not the reader agrees with [Bauer's] positions, they are carefully and thoughtfully argued."
"[Bauer] has also been interested in explaining the Zeitgeist which produced-and in many cases continues to project-the influential ideas and policies which are in such total disregard of readily observable reality. It is these reflections, contained in a number of essays in this book, which are likely to resonate with the general reader observing the contemporary world scene."
Deepak Lal, Times Literary Supplement
The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa's Future
Anthony de Jasay
An analysis of modern political arrangements that views the state as acting in its own interest contrary to the interests of individuals and even of an entire society. The text traces the logical and historical progression of the state from a modest-sized protector of life and property through its development into what the author believes to be an "agile seducer of democratic majorities" and "the welfare-dispensing drudge that it is today".
Ordered Anarchy: Jasay and His Surroundings
Anthony de Jasay's work has been enormously influential, describing both a theoretical philosophical model for a stateless, liberal, free market order and offering analysis of and solutions to many of the technical economic problems associated with such a vision of society - most notably his work on the free rider and his return. In this book, ten significant scholars in philosophy and political economy, including Nobel laureate in economics James Buchanan, pay tribute to the man and his work in a series of essays at once both respectful and critical."Ordered Anarchy" focuses on three fundamental questions of libertarian thinking. Which are the basic libertarian principles and how do rights and liberties relate to each other? Is order possible and durable in an anarchic or quasi-anarchic society, and if so, under which preconditions? How and to what extent are the pillars of politics, such as the constitution, institutions and government, detrimental or beneficial to an enduring free society?While Narveson, Palmer and Bouillon focus on the first of these questions, the late Radnitzky and van Dun address the second.
Benson, Holcombe and Kliemt provide answers to question number three, while Buchanan and Little highlight the role of Anthony de Jasay in this debate and the inspiration that his thinking has given to the authors of this volume.
Government depends on collective decision making. Even in peaceful democracies, some decide for all. Challenging the morality of this position, this text argues that it is not different political systems that are at fault so much as the very nature of politics itself. This text pulls together de Jasay's key work in this area over the last ten years. In the first section of the book de Jasay attacks contractarian thought and the very notion of the legitimacy of politics. In the final section he outlines an alternative vision, a form of ordered anarchy based on social virtues, achievements and institutions which exist prior to government and which are not contingent on political arrangements. The book provides an insight into a radical form of libertarianism which renders even the most minimal form of state redundant.
Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media
Why is news about global warming always bad? Why do scientists so often offer dire predictions about the future of the environment? In Meltdown, climatologist Patrick Michaels says it's only natural. He argues that the way we do science today - when issues compete with each other for monopoly funding by the government - creates a culture of exaggeration and a political comunity that then takes credit for having saved us from certain doom. Michaels starts with a succinct discussion of climate-change science and then unrolls a litany of falsehood, exaggeration, and misstatement. He cited hundreds of errors and exaggerations in scientific papers, new reports, and television sound bites.
Cool It!: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
Global warming has become one of the permanent concerns of our time, with ever stronger calls to combat it via drastic programs, like the Kyoto Protocol. In this highly controversial book, Bjorn Lomborg (author of the bestselling "The Skeptical Environmentalist") claims that the arguments for such action are little more than scare mongering and exposes this wide range of disinformation. Global warming is happening. It's a serious and important problem and we need to deal with it in a responsible way. But in order to do so effectively, Lomborg argues we need to look at the cost and benefits of the proposed measures against global warming. He demonstrates that drastic, here-and-now measures is the worst way to spend our money. Climate change is a 100-year problem - we should not try to fix it in 10 years. This important book explodes myths and places the global warming debate into a broader view.
Competition and Entrepreneurship
Stressing verbal logic rather than mathematics, Israel M. Kirzner provides at once a thorough critique of contemporary price theory, an essay on the theory of entrepreneurship, and an essay on the theory of competition. "Competition and Entrepreneurship" offers a new appraisal of quality competition, of selling effort, and of the fundamental weaknesses of contemporary welfare economics.
Kirzner's book establishes a theory of the market and the price system which differs from orthodox price theory. He sees orthodox price theory as explaining the configuration of prices and quantities that satisfied the conditions for equilibrium. Mr. Kirzner argues that "it is "more" useful to look to price theory to help understand how the decisions of individual participants in the market interact to generate the market forces which compel changes in prices, outputs, and methods of production and in the allocation of resources."
Although "Competition and Entrepreneurship" is primarily concerned with the operation of the market economy, Kirzner's insights can be applied to crucial aspects of centrally planned economic systems as well. In the analysis of these processes, Kirzner clearly shows that the rediscovery of the entrepreneur must emerge as a step of major importance.
Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure
The stated purpose of antitrust laws is to protect competition and the public interest. But do such laws actually restrict the competitive process, harming consumers and serving the special interests of a few politically-connected competitors? Is antitrust law a necessary defence against the predatory business practices of wealthy, entrenched corporations that dominate a market? Or does antitrust law actually work to restrain and restrict the competitive process, injuring the public it is supposed to protect? In this breakthrough study, professor Armentano thoroughly researches the classic cases in antitrust law and demonstrates a surprising gap between the stated aims of antitrust law and what it actually accomplishes in the real world. Instead of protecting competition, professor Armentano finds, antitrust law actually protects certain politically-favoured competitors. This is an essential work for anyone wishing to understand the limitations and problems of contemporary antitrust actions.
The Antitrust Religion
Many successful American businesses have been accused of anti-competitive practices. Drawing on 50 years of experience with U.S. antitrust laws, attorney and author Edwin S. Rockefeller sheds light on why lawmakers, bureaucrats, academics, and journalists use arbitrary and irrational laws and enforcement mechanisms to punish capitalists rather than promote competition. The Antitrust Religion argues that everything most people know about antitrust is wrong. The orthodox view is that antitrust was created to protect competition. But Rockefeller's account is strikingly different. He argues that antitrust in practice has often benefited, not the public, but specific businesses that wanted to take down their competitors. In cases ranging from early antitrust targets like Standard Oil to the more recent IBM and Microsoft cases, he reveals why some companies are punished for being winners in the market. Rockefeller vividly shows how antitrust has been transformed into a quasi-religious faith. He explains that this antitrust religion relies on economic theories that bestow a veneer of objectivity and credibility on law enforcement practices that actually rely on hunch and whim. On issues such as mergers and price fixing, Rockefeller thoroughly examines arbitrary antitrust laws that lead to ill-informed juries and bureaucratic abuse. He concludes that those laws also create a perverse incentive for entrepreneurs to hold down sales volume and avoid improvements in price, quality, and service. Otherwise, such entrepreneurs could become the next targets of the antitrust priests. The Antitrust Religion will greatly assist business professionals, journalists, policymakers, professors, judges, and all others interested in government regulation of business in understanding how our antitrust laws actually work.
Competition Laws in Conflict: Antitrust Jurisdiction in the Global Economy
The growth and integration of national and global markets should make the world more competitive and antitrust policy less important. Instead, globalization has produced a veritable antitrust proliferation. When corporate transactions routinely cross borders, anti-competitive practices in one jurisdiction invariably affect producers and consumers in another. A system in which each affected jurisdiction gets to apply its own competition rules to those transactions poses a danger of grave political conflicts and, moreover, intolerable costs for producers, who must comply with the often conflicting demands of multiple jurisdictions. Moreover, states have powerful incentives to permit domestic industries to exploit outsiders, or even to facilitate such practices. High-profile antitrust conflicts, from the prosecution of Microsoft in state, national, and international forums to the transatlantic disagreement over the European Union's merger policy, illustrate the difficulties. Possible solutions to these problems range from improved intergovernmental cooperation, to direct policy harmonization, to a new regime of "structured competition" in antitrust policy modeled on U.S. corporation law.
The Abolition of Antitrust
"The Abolition of Antitrust" asserts that antitrust laws - on economic, legal, and moral grounds - are bad, and provides convincing evidence supporting arguments for their total abolition. Every year, new antitrust prosecutions arise in the US courts. Gary Hull and the contributing authors look at some of these cases - as well as the very Antitrust Act itself - and conclude that they are based on an erroneous interpretation of the history of American business, premised on bad economics. For Hull, antitrust prosecutions are based on a horrible moral inversion: that it is acceptable to sacrifice America's best producers. The contributors explain how key antitrust ideas, for instance, "monopoly," "restraint of trade," and "anticompetitive behavior," have been used to justify prosecution, and then make clear why those ideas are false. They sketch the historical, legal, economic, and moral reasoning that gave rise to the passage and growth of antitrust legislation. This dynamic and accessible work, now available in paperback, is not simply a polemical argument for a particular policy position.
Published in 1957, "Atlas Shrugged" was Ayn Rand's greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel, she dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex. Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life - from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction to the philosopher who becomes a pirate to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad to the lowest track worker in her train tunnels. Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, "Atlas Shrugged" is a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.
The Fountainhead has become an enduring piece of literature, more popular now than when published in 1943. On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howard Roark, and his struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey. But the book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand's writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.