David Boaz discusses his book ‘The Libertarian Mind’ on WLRN’s Topical Currents

Posted on February 24, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz’s book “The Libertarian Mind” is promoted as the Book of the Week on CNN International’s Fareed Zakaria GPS

Posted on February 23, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz promotes his book “The Libertarian Mind” on Simon & Schuster

Posted on February 22, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz’s book “A Libertarian Mind” is promoted as the book of the week on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS

Posted on February 22, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

George Washington, the Man Who Established the Republic

At the end of the American Revolution, King George III asked his American painter, Benjamin West, what George Washington would do next. West replied, “They say he will return to his farm.”

“If he does that,” the incredulous monarch said, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Colloquially we now call the federal holiday on the third Monday in February “Presidents Day.” Legally, though, it’s still “Washington’s Birthday.” Which is appropriate, because without Washington we might not have had any other presidents.

George Washington was the man who established the American republic. He led the revolutionary army against the British Empire, he served as the first president, and most importantly he stepped down from power.

In an era of brilliant leaders, Washington was not the deepest thinker. He never wrote a book or even a long essay, unlike George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams. But Washington made the ideas of the American founding real. He incarnated liberal and republican ideas in his own person, and he gave them effect through the Revolution, the Constitution, his successful presidency, and his departure from office.

Washington made the ideas of the American founding real.”

What’s so great about leaving office? Surely it matters more what a president doesin office. But think about other great military commanders and revolutionary leaders before and after Washington—Caesar, Cromwell, Napoleon, Lenin. They all seized the power they had won and held it until death or military defeat.

Washington held “republican” values — that is, he believed in a republic of free citizens, with a government based on consent and established to protect the rights of life, liberty, and property.

From his republican values Washington derived his abhorrence of kingship, even for himself. The writer Garry Wills called him “a virtuoso of resignations.” He gave up power not once but twice — at the end of the revolutionary war, when he resigned his military commission and returned to Mount Vernon, and again at the end of his second term as president, when he refused entreaties to seek a third term. In doing so, he set a standard for American presidents that lasted until the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose taste for power was stronger than the 150 years of precedent set by Washington.

Washington was not only a model for future presidents, too rarely followed, but he also left behind some advice. He laid out America’s founding commitment not just to toleration but to equal rights for all citizens in a famous letter to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

In his Farewell Address, he laid a foundation for American foreign policy that we would do well to ponder today: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

He knew that a president’s job is not to run the country, nor to make law, but rather to carry out the laws made by Congress. In the Farewell Address, he urged all of those entrusted with office “to confine themselves within their respective Constitutional spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the Powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism.”

Washington was a farmer, a businessman, an enthusiast for commerce. As a man of the Enlightenment, he was deeply interested in scientific farming. His letters on running Mount Vernon are longer than his letters on running the government. (Of course, in 1795 more people worked at Mount Vernon than in the entire executive branch of the federal government.)

On February 22, the actual anniversary of George Washington’s birth, we should remember the man who led the war that created the nation and established the precedents that made it a republic.

Posted on February 22, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

The Libertarian Reader Presents the Best Thinking about Liberty over Three Millennia

The Libertarian ReaderSimon & Schuster has just published The Libertarian Reader: Classic & Contemporary Writings from Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman, which I edited. Buy it now from any good bookseller!

Just look at some of the great thinkers included in The Libertarian Reader:

  • Lao-Tzu
  • Richard Overton
  • John Locke
  • Adam Smith
  • David Hume
  • Thomas Paine
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Alexis de Tocqueville
  • Frederic Bastiat
  • John Stuart Mill
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Angelina Grimke
  • Herbert Spencer
  • Ludwig von Mises
  • F. A. Hayek
  • Ayn Rand
  • Murray Rothbard
  • Milton Friedman
  • Robert Nozick
  • Richard Epstein
  • Mario Vargas Llosa

When the first edition was published in 1997, Laissez Faire Books called it “The most magnificent collection of libertarian writings ever published.” In this edition, Tom G. Palmer’s magisterial guide to “The Literature of Liberty” has been updated to include important libertarian books published in the 21st century. That essay alone is worth the price of the book!

Buy it together with The Libertarian Mind at an incredible discount.

Posted on February 20, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

The Libertarian Mind in the News

I’ve been busy talking up the libertarian moment, libertarian ideas, and The Libertarian Mind (buy it now, available everywhere) in person and in print lately. Here are a few recent examples.

My article on America’s libertarian roots in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

Indeed, the principles of the Declaration are so closely associated with libertarianism that the Chinese edition of my previous book, Libertarianism: A Primer, features a cover photograph of the famous room in Independence Hall, complete with Windsor chairs and green tablecloths.

Libertarianism is the philosophy of freedom. It has, in different form throughout history, inspired people who fought for freedom, dignity, and individual rights - the early advocates of religious tolerance, the opponents of absolute monarchy, the American revolutionaries, the abolitionists, antiwar advocates and anti-imperialists, opponents of National Socialism and communism.

The next day, Nick Gillespie interviewed me at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Video here.

My article “Black History Is American History” at HuffingtonPost:

Black history is American history, a story of oppression and liberation rooted in the libertarian idea of individual rights. Much of the progress we have made in the United States has involved extending the promises of the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – to more and more people. The emphasis on the individual mind in the Enlightenment, the individualist nature of market capitalism and the demand for individual rights that inspired the American Revolution naturally led people to think more carefully about the nature of the individual and gradually to recognize that the dignity of individual rights should be extended to all.

And my interview with African American Conservatives.

My print interview yesterday with Salon:

Where am I the most optimistic? I am optimistic that around the world more and more people are moving into a world of property rights, markets, globalization, human rights, women’s rights, access to information and opportunity. Now that’s obviously not true everywhere; there are, at any given moment, unfortunate setbacks in Venezuela and Russia and some of Eastern Europe. But I do think the largest historical trend of our time is the move in a broadly libertarian direction, and therefore toward a higher standard of living for billions of people around the world.

Are you thinking of the growing middle class in China and India when you say this?

Absolutely. The change in economic conditions in China and India — right there you got one-third of the world. But also there have been some advances in the direction of human rights in Africa as well. So in a great deal of the world, you’ve seen a huge reduction in poverty and absolute poverty, and a rising middle class in many of these countries.

Interviews with Jim Bohannon, Garland Robinette, Bill Frezza, and others can be found here.

Buy the book!

 

Posted on February 19, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz discusses his book ‘The Libertarian Mind’ on Westwood One’s The Jim Bohannon Show

Posted on February 16, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz discusses his book ‘The Libertarian Mind’ at the National Constitution Center

Posted on February 16, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

David Boaz discusses his book ‘The Libertarian Mind’ on Real Clear Radio Hour with Bill Frezza

Posted on February 15, 2015  Posted to Cato@Liberty

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