1010 N Tennessee St
Published March 28, 2012 in Persuasion by Michael Cloud
The other day, a libertarian phoned me to talk about some projects he was working on. After we discussed them, I wanted to find out a little bit about his libertarian background and thinking and knowledge.
"When I first meet a libertarian, I like to get a feel for his interests and knowledge," I said. "I ask one question and we start from there. When I first met Murray Rothbard, Nathaniel Branden, Dave Nolan, Dr. John Hospers, David Bergland, and Harry Browne, this is the first libertarian question I asked each of them. Would you be willing to answer it?"
"Sure," he said. "What's the question?"
"What's the last libertarian book that you've read cover-to-cover -- and when did you read it?"
"I've read the Constitution," he said.
"The U.S. Constitution is 4440 words long. And it's not a book," I said. "Let's try again. What's the last libertarian book that you have read cover-to-cover -- and when did you read it?"
He was silent for 20 seconds. Then he spoke.
"I've never read a libertarian book cover-to-cover," he said. "But I have a good reason."
"What is it?" I asked.
"I'm planning to write a book on libertarianism... and I don't want to be influenced," he said.
"You haven't read one single book on liberty? Why would anyone want to read anything you write?" I asked.
"Well, I'm a very original thinker," he said.
"How would you know? If you haven't read Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek, David Bergland, Harry Browne, and other great libertarian thinkers, how could you possibly know whether you have so much as one solitary original thought?" I asked.
He changed the subject. Five minutes later, we said goodbye.
Would you want to work with this libertarian "leader?" Would you trust his political judgment?
Would you want to read what he writes? Listen to what he says?
Or would you rather work with a libertarian who's actively learning and developing?
You don't need to read every libertarian book to be a libertarian.
You do not need to be a scholar or authority on all things libertarian.
But if you want to educate others, if you want to convince others, you need to learn a little bit about liberty.
A few books will go a long way toward seeing what's so and why. Toward showing you how the ideas fit together.
So you can explain the ideas of liberty, the solutions of liberty to your family, friends, and co-workers.
If you're embarrassed by your answer to my question about your libertarian reading, you can easily change it with just 15 of minutes' of reading a day.
Try any one of these books.
Libertarianism in One Lesson by David Bergland. Praised as “the best short introduction to libertarianism available."
Why Government Doesn't Work by Harry Browne.
The Great Libertarian Offer by Harry Browne.
The Law by Frederic Bastiat. Just 72 pages, packed with wisdom.
Libertarianism: A-Primer by David-Boaz
Healing Our World by Dr. Mary Ruwart
They are short, highly readable, practical, wide-reaching books.
In just 15 minutes a day, you'll become more knowledgeable, better able to answer your
friends' questions about liberty, more persuasive, and more confident.
And you will smile when I ask you, "What's the last libertarian book that you've read cover-to-cover -- and when did you read it?"
Editor’s note: Want more suggestions for excellent libertarian books? Check these out:
“Reading the Literature of Liberty” by Roy A. Childs, Jr. The late editor of Laissez Faire Books wrote this guide to outstanding libertarian books in 1987, and it’s still a great guide today.
“The 20 Best Liberty Books Ever Written” by Jim Powell. Excellent 1999 list by another Laissez Faire Books editor.