The Debates of Liberty

The Debates of Liberty

An Overview of Individualist Anarchism, 1881-1908

By:

Wendy McElroy

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Summary

In her pioneering work, The Debates of Liberty, Wendy McElroy provides a comprehensive examination of one of the most remarkable and influential political phenomena in America: the anarchist periodical Liberty and the circle of radicals who surrounded it. Liberty, which is widely considered to be the premier individualist-anarchist periodical ever issued in the English language, published such items as George Bernard Shaw's first original article to appear in the United States and the first American translated excerpts of Friedrich Nietzsche. Arguably the world's foremost expert on Liberty, Dr. McElroy exposes the reader to the controversy etched in each debate, ranging from radical civil liberties to economic theory, and from children's rights to the basis of rent and interest. While addressing the facts, Dr. McElroy also conveys and captures the individualistic personalities that emerged: Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert, Joshua K. Ingalls, John Henry Mackay, Victor Yarros, and Wordsworth Donisthorpe are only a partial listing.

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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.


For Parents

The "for parents" topic is a very important component of Book of Liberty. After all, for those who have kids, if you would like to affect change in the world one of the most important roles you have in this context is being a responsible steward of your children. Raising a strong, moral, peaceful individual can have tremendous positive impact.

The non-aggression principle is best displayed through its application in interpersonal relations, of which peaceful parenting is one such strategy. Like many other topics covered by books on this site, this too can be controversial and in no way are we prescribing behavior or applying judgment. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but we do encourage the same rigor and logical consistency to be applied to your relationships with others in your life as we apply to the relationship between the individual and the State.

Topics such as homeschooling, Montessori, or other forms of unschooling can be found when browsing the "for parents" topic, as well as books for young readers. If you have a young reader at home, consider browsing this section for inspiration on books for them to read.

A note from the curator: If you are a parent of a 5-11 year old (or know someone who is) The Tuttle Twins series of books would make a great addition to their library. Similar to the advertising fees we get from books purchased through Amazon, the creators of The Tuttle Twins support Books of Liberty with a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links, and I would not promote these books if I didn’t highly recommend them myself.

Same goes for the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program, who support Books of Liberty through advertising fees for those who purchase through our links. I haven’t gone through a homeschool program and my daughter isn’t old enough for school yet, so I can’t speak from personal experience but I have heard nothing but tremendous positive feedback from homeschooling parents for Ron Paul’s program and I am happy to be recommending it.


Communication Skills

If there is one thing that we’re willing to bet on, it’s that there are topics within the pages of Books of Liberty for which you are very passionate. And wouldn’t it be great if you could convince just a few more people to see things the way you do on these subjects? If there is one tool in your tool-belt that you need in order to achieve this aim, it’s improved communication skills.

With techniques such as nonviolent communication, or NVC (for which we have many books and study guides), or other means of empathic connection you can reach a meeting of the minds on almost anything. In addition to convincing an "opponent" in a debate, this may significantly improve interpersonal relations, parenting, help with conflict resolution and is an important social skill to have.

In order to strengthen your arguments, you will utilize critical thinking and problem solving techniques to help frame your ideas, apply logic consistently and remove cognitive biases, and you will learn to identify others’ use of logical fallacies or fear and manipulation.

Then, with the power of empathic connection you will use your rhetoric to its full potential, whether through writing, debating, negotiation, public speaking or other forms of communication.

A note from the curator: Regarding almost any topic found on Books of Liberty, the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program provides exemplary teaching on the subject. From my research (admittedly not through my own personal experience) I found that Ron Paul’s program comes highly recommended for those who want their kids to acquire superior written and other communication skills. From courses on English and Report Writing to Public Speaking and Using Wordpress, your homeschooler will learn how to communicate on a variety of platforms.

Liberty Classroom is another excellent resource that, as Master Member I enjoy and thoroughly recommend, if for no other reason than their Introduction to Logic course, which I’ve sat through and is terrific! This and many other great courses will help you communicate clearly and master debates.

In full disclosure, both the Ron Paul Curriculum and Liberty Classroom support Books of Liberty through advertising fees for those who purchase through our links, but I would recommend them wholeheartedly regardless.


Personal Development

Between education, entrepreneurship, communication skills and other such important topics, personal development forms a key component of one’s path to personal freedom. No human is perfect and while we ought to balance the recognition of this fact with self-esteem and acceptance of our nature, there is room for improvement in us all (and if nothing else, there is room for us to at least maintain our level of awesomeness).

I've included books covering important components of personal development and tools to increase your efficiency. These include productivity and time management methodologies (such as the highly recommended Getting Things Done or GTD), leadership skills, creativity, resilience, organizational skills and many more, all of which require the formation of great habits, self-discipline and willpower. Other intriguing topics like stoicism and minimalism are covered too.

Topics related with personal development include physical and mental wellbeing as well as psychology.


Cultural Issues

Legal and political issues aside, it is often the cultural and social issues that are upstream from any legislative action. Especially in a democracy, politicians know that to get reelected they need to tread a fine line and take a stand on topics that are culturally in vogue. Books providing cultural analysis or ones that talk of the social order are numerous within our site.

These books include racism, sexism, feminism and other such social justice issues relating to discrimination, freedom of association, freedom of speech, human rights, or political correctness. The topics of popular culture, American culture and Western Civilization are also represented.

Observations from many writers on these issues are provided through commentary and opinion and often investigative journalism leads down an interesting path, shedding light on these and other topics.


Other classifications

To make things easier to find, we created a few groupings that allow you to narrow down certain topics that include a large number of named individuals, geographical locations, or geopolitical entities. We created the topics: people and groups; areas and nations; economists; and politicians (who, within it, include also nation state leaders and US presidents).

And if you want a book that seems to have a wide variety of topics, you may just want to filter with the word smorgasbord and see what books come up.