Faith in Freedom

Faith in Freedom

Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices

By:

Thomas Szasz

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Summary

The libertarian philosophy of freedom is characterized by two fundamental beliefs: the right to be left alone and the duty to leave others alone. Psychiatric practice routinely violates both of these beliefs. It is based on the notion that self-ownership—exemplified by suicide—is a not an inherent right, but a privilege subject to the review of psychiatrists as representatives of society. In Faith in Freedom, Thomas Szasz raises fundamental questions about psychiatric practices that inhibit an individual’s right to freedom.

His questions are fundamental. Is suicide an exercise of rightful self-ownership or a manifestation of mental disorder? Does involuntary confinement under psychiatric auspices constitute unjust imprisonment, or is it therapeutically justified hospitalization? Should forced psychiatric drugging be interpreted as assault and battery on the person or is it medical treatment?

The ethical standards of psychiatric practice mandate that psychiatrists employ coercion. Forgoing such “intervention” is considered a dereliction of the psychiatrists’ “duty to protect.” How should friends of freedom—especially libertarians—deal with the conflict between elementary libertarian principles and prevailing psychiatric practices? In Faith in Freedom, Thomas Szasz addresses this question more directly and more profoundly than in any of his previous works.

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Anti-individualism

Sadly, where there is light, there must be shadow and the topics you’d find in this category pertain to the darker parts of human existence. We’ve included some books that espouse such ideals, such as various communist treatises or books that advocate various forms of socialism or those that hail democracy as some crowning achievement of mankind. I, for one, feel that it is important to know the arguments of the opposing side to strengthen your understanding of your own position. But if you do buy these books and enrich the authors or their publishers, please buy through our links so that at least a liberty-loving outfit would gain a buck or two out of this deal…

Aside from a few books that support such views, the majority of the titles tagged with the above topics are there to shine light on, and provide a critique of these views. Other anti-individualist topics include: the seemingly benign bureaucracy that makes the State inefficient; the deceptive egalitarianism and the nanny state, a path paved with good intentions that we all know where it leads (hint: may include redistribution of wealth and slavery); the outright evil in ideologies such as Fascism and Marxism that lead to despotism, dictatorship, tyranny and totalitarianism; and crony capitalism (corporatism) and its predecessor mercantilism, which masquerades as capitalism in most people’s minds and leads to anti-capitalist views.


Critique of the State

Shedding more light where once was dark, this topic includes a wide array of critiques surrounding the function of the State, but mostly around policy critiques and warfare. As it relates to the State’s functioning, everything from central planning, coercion and government expansion through to propaganda, taxation and the act of voting are discussed.

The State apparatus and its institutions, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other alphabet soup organizations – they are all brought to account together with their counterparts in the military-industrial complex and the deep state. The Supreme Court, criminal justice system and the prisons are not immune to critique. And the filth of politics and lobbying are described in great lengths.

Policy critiques cover everything from abortion to welfare. It all starts with state intervention in the affairs of private individuals and foreign intervention (which includes the seemingly benevolent foreign aid) in the affairs of other groups of people. More specifically, US foreign policy and US military intervention are popular policies to critique.

Some of the other more common topics include: drugs, eminent domain, environmentalism, poverty, protectionism, muh roads, slavery, and other forms of public policy. Needless to say, these and other policies lead to ridiculous levels of government spending, itself a valid topic to critique.

And of course, the most destructive activity perpetrated by the State is warfare. The wars abroad and at home are discussed at length. Of the ‘traditional’ wars, World War I and II and the so-called American ‘Civil War’ (always in quotation marks) feature in the most number of books, some of which include discussions on genocide and war crimes. But then there are also the wars on amorphous, undefined entities, such as: the war on drugs, which leads to domestic violence, militarization and a police state; and the war on terror, which brought us torture, more terror and the ever-increasing drone warfare.

A note from the curator: The State is thoroughly critiqued within Liberty Classroom and the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program. In full transparency, I have no direct experience in homeschooling but I have heavily researched Ron Paul’s program and found it to be an outstanding alternative to the public school system (a system where you would never hear a critique of the State).

I am a very satisfied Master Member of Liberty Classroom and have taken the Introduction to Government course that is available through the Ron Paul Curriculum. Between this course and others available through Liberty Classroom, you can’t get a better or more thought out exposition critiquing the State and all its failures or faulty premises (and in a way that is suitable for the younger ages too). I’ll disclose that Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links.


Personal Freedom

Since the mission of Books of Liberty is to help you find content to free your mind, you can’t go wrong with clicking on personal freedom and seeing where it takes you. Topics that are likely to be correlated with personal freedom include education and critical thinking, entrepreneurship or other means of achieving financial freedom, physical and mental wellbeing, and for the parents out there we have books on peaceful parenting and some reading ideas for your own young readers.


Financial Freedom

As part of your overall personal freedom, achieving financial freedom allows you to live relatively unencumbered by the burdens of life. While difficult to realize and rare to find, this can be achieved through hard work and consistent dedication (or sheer luck, for some). Either through entrepreneurship, finance and investing or by building streams of passive income, the opportunities presented within the books tagged here form a good starting point on the path to success.

Investing and understanding the world of finance is a critical part of achieving and maintaining financial freedom. Whether you invest in precious metals (such as gold or silver), design a Permanent Portfolio, take an interest in money management or retirement planning, or whether you just want to know more about student loans, you will find that info here.

Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of capitalism and the free market system and books on this topic are well represented. You can find books that provide insight to the entrepreneurial mindset, which, in my view, can be equally applied to those who are employed, which will increase your success in that context too. But for those looking to bootstrap or start a business of their own, we would recommend the resources here discussing everything from marketing, public relations, copy writing and sales to books about competition, e-commerce or social media.

Don’t be shocked to find Austrian Economics books here, detailing the theoretical side of entrepreneurship and the place of the entrepreneur within the market process. A strong foundation will help those entrepreneurs in practice.

Within the business section you can also find books on the business organization (contrasting to bureaucracy of the State), on decision making, business growth, accounting, etc. While decision making may sometimes be covered in a book completely unrelated to business, it would be tagged to business if the benefits of such content can be applied to those entrepreneurs needing to make decisions for their venture. Likewise, entrepreneurial mindset can often be tagged to books describing characteristics that would prove valuable to an entrepreneur, even if they don’t relate directly to the entrepreneurial space.

A note from the curator: One thing I was always curious about: why is this never taught at school?! By providing your homeschoolers the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program, they will learn Personal Finance in the 8th grade, Business in grades 9 and 10 and will be exposed to topics to help their entrepreneurial mindset throughout the years. You may see throughout the site banners promoting this program and Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links. I only wish I had learned these things at a young age and got a head start in life.


Philosophy of Freedom

Within this topic you’ll find a wide variety of books, many of which we hold in the highest regard. These books are also associated with other topics, such as anarchist traditions and practical liberty. All your great libertarian manifestos, books that discuss individual liberty, the non-aggression principle, laissez faire, objectivism, etc. are found within.

Anarchist traditions would be a great shortcut to find books specifically calling out anarchist principles. The name "anarchist traditions" is purposefully broad, because in addition to anarcho-capitalism and voluntaryism, there are books on anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism or other forms of collectivist anarchism, as well as egoism and other schools of thought.

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The topic of philosophy is closely associated, as many of the books tagged to the philosophy of freedom contain deep philosophical arguments from ethics and epistemology to political theory and religion. A wide variety of ideologies are represented and critiqued within the pages of the books linked here, covering the full political spectrum: whether it is Fascism versus Communism; Neoconservatism versus Progressivism or Liberalism; Nationalism and Nazism versus International Socialism and everything in between.

A note from the curator: You may see throughout the site banners promoting Liberty Classroom. As a very satisfied Master Member, I cannot recommend enough the courses within Liberty Classroom, all of which are imbued with the philosophy of freedom, including How Freedom Settled the West and History of Conservatism and Libertarianism. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our link.


Physical and Mental Wellbeing

The main aspects of your physical wellbeing that help prevent disease and ill-health are diet and fitness. Each body is unique and we have insufficient information to assess the efficacy of the ideas represented in the diet and fitness books linked within our pages. Healthcare is another important component and the books within this topic may include not just a "how to" on healthcare but also theoretical expositions, commentary and opinion and other economic analyses or policy critiques.

One’s mental wellbeing is influenced by a large number of factors, over which we are even less qualified to talk about than we are on diet and fitness. However we have compiled books on a variety of topics that will help educate you on matters of self-esteem, stress management, the effects of trauma or punishment and reward on mental health and happiness, as well as help you gain more self-awareness through mindfulness and a focus on authenticity.

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The Law

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A note from the curator: One of the reasons I am a very satisfied Master Member of Liberty Classroom is that I have access to courses like US Constitutional History and others featuring topics related to the law. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our link.