Reading’s Pete’s post below makes me think I need to learn more about libertarianism. I’m currently laying the groundwork for a book on American liberty, in which I argue there are five fundamental conceptions of it, one of which is the “economic individualist” liberty exemplified by the Lochner decision’s defense of a right to contract, and which is sort of the libertarian position minus the drugs and prostitution legalization. I argue that the twentieth-century libertarianism usually combines economic individualism liberty with the idea (Whitman, Rorty, Sexual Revolution, Griswold, Lawrence, etc.) of personal autonomy liberty.
My problem is I’ve been learning about libertarianism from a number of sharp libertarian (or “classic liberal”) con-law scholars: David Mayer, David Bernstein, Randy Barnett, and Richard Epstein, and I’m beginning to realize that they are not really representative, that I’m getting a far more genteel and reasoned vision of libertarianism when I read them.
What I need is to figure out who the “Mark Levin of libertarianism” is, that is, who speaks for them in a more popular/manifesto mode but is smart and still worth reading. That’s my take on what Levin does with conservatism (although my book will take swipes at him for making conservatism—and the Founders—seem much more libertarian-friendly than he should).
Hayek’s Road to Serfdom of course is obvious, and a model of political philosophy conducted at a more popular level(BTW, anyone have an opinion on what parts of The Constitution of Liberty are the essential ones to read?), but I need more up-to-date examples, and ones that really get read by libertarians.
And look, don’t bother with the Ayn Rand…it just isn’t going to happen. You wear a damned dollar-sign on your chest and claim to be some sort of philosopher to boot, and no, I’m not going to read your books.
Whew! Sorry about that Ugh-liness, everyone. Maybe you can put it out of your mind by steering us to the right books.