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The New York Times bestselling author of The Rational Optimist and Genome returns with a fascinating argument for evolution that definitively dispels a dangerous, widespread myth: that we can command and control our world.
Human society evolves. Change in technology, language, morality, and society is incremental, inexorable, gradual, and spontaneous. It follows a narrative, going from one stage to the next; it creeps rather than jumps; it has its own spontaneous momentum rather than being driven from outside; it has no goal or end in mind; and it largely happens by trial and error—a version of natural selection. Much of the human world is the result of human action but not of human design: it emerges from the interactions of millions, not from the plans of a few.
Drawing on fascinating evidence from science, economics, history, politics, and philosophy, Matt Ridley demolishes conventional assumptions that the great events and trends of our day are dictated by those on high, whether in government, business, academia, or organized religion. On the contrary, our most important achievements develop from the bottom up. Just as skeins of geese form Vs in the sky without meaning to and ter-mites build mud cathedrals without architects, so brains take shape without brain-makers, learning happens without teaching, and morality changes for no reason other than the prevailing fashion. Although we neglect, defy, and ignore them, bottom-up trends shape the world. The Industrial Revolution, cell phones, the rise of Asia, and the Internet were never planned; they happened. Languages emerged and evolved by a form of natural selection, as did common law. Torture, racism, slavery, and pedophilia—all once widely regarded as acceptable—are now seen as immoral despite the decline of religion in recent decades. In this wide-ranging and erudite book, Ridley brilliantly makes the case for evolution, rather than design, as the force that has shaped much of our culture, our technology, our minds, and that even now is shaping our future.
As compelling as it is controversial, as authoritative as it is ambitious, Ridley’s deeply thought-provoking book will change the way?we think about the world and how it works.
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.
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.
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.
We find topics about the law, laws and legislation, justice, law enforcement and judicial systems fascinating, especially when combined with anarchy, as this seems to be one of the last bastions on the road to understanding an anarchist system and how legal order and property rights would be maintained.
Administrative law, regulations, and licensure as we know them today are artefacts of the State that are critiqued in our featured books, but so are dozens of other legislative issues, such as: labor laws (child labor, labor unions, minimum wage), issues relating to the US Constitution or the Articles of Confederation (e.g. the commerce clause, nullification, fugitive slave laws, gun control / second amendment), civil rights issues, Obamacare, Prohibition, and even earlier established legal concepts, such as the Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus.
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.
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.
One of the most popular topics on this site, history, is a fascinating subject to read. Given the nature of this site it didn’t quite make sense to create a category of ‘revisionist history’ since most of the history books featured are of that nature. Sure enough, we have uncontested historical accounts of various historical events, but when you search for history and drill further down into a specific topic (such as various wars, Pearl Harbor, The New Deal or the Great Depression), you are going to get intellectually honest ‘revisionist’ accounts of these events.
While you may expand your history search by historical event or by selecting US history or the history of some other area or nation, we have classified the history texts by period as well. You can indulge your curiosity if you are an avid reader of one of or more of the following periods: Antiquity, Biblical period, Classical period, Medieval period or the Middle ages, Early modern period, the Renaissance, or specifically within the last few hundred years, as grouped by: 16th Century, 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, or the 20th Century.
And speaking of indulging yourself, with several dozen books on conspiracy theories, you may brush up on such topics as 9/11, the New World Order, False Flag operations, or on the Kennedy deaths, or various institutions and secret societies like The Illuminati, The Freemasons, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Tavistock Institute, or even Skull & Bones.
A note from the curator: The variety of history courses within Liberty Classroom, including two US History courses, two Western Civilization courses, and many (many!) more will, no doubt, make you as big of a fan of Liberty Classroom as I am. The Western Civilization courses are also available to students of the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program along with many other courses you will not find in public schools (or most private schools either).
In full transparency, I have no direct experience in homeschooling but if you want your kids to learn the real history you were never taught, you can’t get much better than providing them Ron Paul’s program. Books of Liberty is happy to promote both these programs in exchange for a small advertising fee because I cannot reiterate enough what terrific history resources these programs are.
The economics category, as expected, is very well represented within the pages of this site. Of all the economics books, around half are explicitly Austrian Economics texts, and (with a significant overlap) around half discuss monetary theory. You may search specifically for economic treatises or books about economists; you will find historical or theoretical accounts of financial crises; you will stumble upon recent books on crypto-currencies (like bitcoin), books covering topics like income or wealth inequality, as well as more technical subjects like price theory, monopoly, division of labor, public choice theory and others. Additionally, critiques of Keynesian economics are to be found throughout the books in this category.
Of the Austrian Economics books, the largest portion discuss The Austrian Business Cycle and praxeology or human action, but you will find many covering to one degree or another topics like time preference, capital and interest, subjective value, and economic calculation, to name a few.
And for those interested in currency or money, whether sound money or fiat money, you will find books arguing the benefits of the gold standard, debates on inflation and deflation, banking, central banks and the Federal Reserve specifically.
At the heart of the free market system of unregulated, voluntary trade stands capitalism and its emphasis on private property. Unsurprisingly, a large collection of books are available on this subject, many of which outline quite clearly the fundamentals and the outcomes of capitalism, especially in contrast to other economic systems like socialism. Additional related topics, such as free trade, decentralization, risk, uncertainty, and the market process can be found in such books.
A note from the curator: Liberty Classroom provides courses like: Austrian Economics Step by Step, two courses on the History of Economic Thought, and What’s Wrong with Textbook Economics, to name a few. With courses like these, how can you not become a fan of Liberty Classroom? I know I am.
And would you like your homeschoolers to learn economics right the first time around? The Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program covers 12th grade economics from teachers you can trust. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty will get a small advertising fee for purchases made through our links.
As a tool devised by our ingenuity, technology is what has propelled us to becoming the dominant species on Earth despite comparative physical disadvantages. But technology continues to empower those in whose hands it should not be used. From outright war to the underappreciated abuses of mass surveillance, the State has been using technology to strip us of life, liberty and property since the dawn of its existence.
In the age of The American Panopticon, breaches of privacy and security through domestic spying are pervasive. The ability to retaliate through the use of bitcoin, and other crypto-currencies and blockchain solutions, or with tools like Tor, the Dark Net, and further ingenious hacking techniques were brought to us by cypherpunks and other such heroes. Learning the technical skills to disrupt and contribute is best done online. The technology world moves fast and traditional publishers can't keep up. But we have amassed a significant collections of books, nonetheless, on these topics within the pages of Books of Liberty, whether they be "how to", novels or non-fiction books.
A note from the curator: Combining "how to" with technology will also yield some great resources on learning coding or other technical skills. For a full Computer Science course aimed at the homeschooling 11th grader, I would recommend the Ron Paul Curriculum homeschool program. Learning to code would not be the sole reason to homeschool, since it can be done by any interested or entrepreneurial-minded person, but the program’s emphasis on such matters (including how to create and run a blog with Wordpress) shows how comprehensive this course is. I found only great feedback about the full curriculum and openly recommend it. In full disclosure, Books of Liberty gets advertising fees for those who purchase through our links.