From Scratch

From Scratch

Libertarian Institutions and Communities

Edited By:

Jason Kuznicki

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There are at least two ways to try to achieve libertarian goals. One is to try to influence current public policy. This is the usual focus of the Cato Institute. Such work involves patiently educating and convincing voters, elected officials, judges, and regulators as we go. It's time-consuming and incremental, and, honestly, not as successful as we might like.

But another way to achieve libertarian goals is simply to build a more libertarian community or institution "from scratch," as it were. Although it may sound utopian, individuals and groups have actually done this, as, for example, in the American Revolution. This month's Cato Unbound examines efforts to start new institutions and communities in our own time — institutions and communities that make liberty their founding concern. How do these efforts compare to "policy" libertarianism? What are their practical chances of succeeding? What pressures might they bring on extant governments if they were to succeed, or even if they just credibly threatened it?

This month's lead essayist is Patri Friedman, executive director of the Seasteading Institute. He will discuss what he sees as the inappropriate bias toward policy-oriented libertarian activism, and also his own project, which hopes to create permanent offshore platforms that might be put to libertarian ends.

Following up on Friedman's essay will be Jason Sorens, the founder of the Free State Project, a movement which seeks to influence the local politics of New Hampshire — already by many measures the freest state in the Union — in the direction of still-greater liberty; Peter Thiel, a key backer of the Seasteading Institute and co-founder of PayPal, which was conceived of as a private currency; and Brian Doherty, a senior editor at Reason magazine and expert on the various branches of the libertarian movement, their histories, goals, and prospects.

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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.

Practical liberty has a hodge-podge of awesome content, from the great anti-war and abolitionist books to theoretical treatises on private defense and private law; from whistleblowing and WikiLeaks to other forms of activism and civil disobedience; from secession to jury nullification and describing revolution and resistance. We’ve even thrown in some interesting "how to" books on affecting change to further one’s activist ends.

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.