Book Review: The Market for Liberty

Want to read “The Market for Liberty?” It’s included as a PDF at the bottom!

This is a neat little book that focuses on a simple yet important idea: “government is an unnecessary evil.” The authors, Morris and Linda Tannehill, oversimplify their argument at times, but the central idea is right: evil is not a necessary component of society. The novella’s argument centers around one simple truth:

“Government means some men governing–ruling over–others by force… When some men rule over others, a condition of slavery exists, and slavery is wrong under any circumstance. To advocate limited government is to advocate limited slavery.”

Their solution: change the prevailing ideas in society. They add “not only can a society be changed by changing the ideas which prevail in it, this is the only way it can be changed.” At least, that is the only morally acceptable way to change society…all other attempts include some amount of coercion. In attempting to change ideas, the authors present their own rudimentary (yet easy to understand) vision of how men might govern themselves in a free and voluntary society. They cover the three major issues that most advocates of the night watchman state tend to think must be done by government: defense, arbitration of disputes (the courts), and protection of life and property (police work).

So is government a “necessary” evil that unfortunately can’t be done without? The Tannehill’s think not. They make the case that “we have no need of high priests or kings or presidents to tell us what to do. Government,” they say, “is now known for what it is. It belongs in the dark past with the rest of man’s superstitions. It’s time for men to grow up so that each individual man can walk forward into the sunlight of freedom … in full control of his own life!”  

Get the PDF here: The Market for Liberty


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