Libertarian Revisionist History
Part of the "Critiques of Libertarianism" site.
Last updated 02/18/11.
Ideologies generally require a reinterpretation of history in light of
their novel explanations. There is a sizable libertarian revisionist
literature that is substantially at odds with history.
Even more annoying are the incessant claims that various historical
figures and classical liberals were libertarians or that the early
US government was libertarian. These are flat out wrong.
L. Neil Smith's Ahistorical Comparison Of Lincoln To Lenin
Brian Tubbs rebuts absurd libertarian assertions about the founders,
constitutionality, and Lincoln's prosecution of the Civil War.
Chapter 6 of
"Forgotten Founders: How the American Indian Helped Shape Democracy"
by Bruce E. Johansen. Extensive discussion of the origin of Franklin
and Jefferson's non-libertarian ideas about property, and their
reflection in the Declaration Of Independence.
Objectivism and Thomas Jefferson
by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. Objectivists are taken to task for
selective quoting from Jefferson, whose writings give many sound
reasons to reject Objectivism.
The "Sovereignty" Of The Individual
Was Jefferson A Libertarian?
Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. tersely describes some important differences
between Jefferson's views and those of libertarians.
Hayek's Road To Serfdom (a criticism by Walter Block)
Hayek On The Role Of The State: A Radical Libertarian Critique (Radnitzky)
F. A. Hayek On Government And Social Evolution: A Critique (Hoppe)
Socialism: A Property Or Knowledge Problem? (Hoppe)
Hayek: Some Missing Pieces (de Jasay)
While Hayek is widely claimed as a libertarian and an Austrian
economist, he's not pure enough for these libertarians (who find him
a coercive socialist.) Oh, and of course von Mises is the one, true,
infallible Austrian economist too.
An Austrian (Mis)Reads Adam Smith: A Critique of Rothbard as
Peter Hans Matthews and Andreas Ortmann say "Rothbard's book
[Economic Thought Before Adam Smith] suffers from logical flaws,
selective and incomplete textual evidence, a misunderstanding of
Das Adam Smith Problem and the relevant literature..." etc.
Bookmarks for Common Libertarian Arguments
An excellent collection of links to resources that can help you
compose your own rebuttals to topical libertarian arguments against the
FDA, revisionist history, etc.
Militia - History And Law Faq
An excellent and comprehensive FAQ rebutting much of the
misinformation about militias and the 2nd Amendment spread by the
modern militia movement, libertarians, the NRA, and others.
Part of the
Economics In One Lesson
Brad DeLong's review of Henry Hazlitt's
Economics In One Lesson. Brad explains at length why this brilliant
libertarian classic is damaging to young brains. Simply put, it ignores
the premises and history of economics; and the ideological blinders are
so strong that Hazlitt's quotes and summaries are sometimes dishonest.
Adam Smith's Soft Side
US Congressman Sherrod Brown points out that Adam Smith was not the
one-dimensional "classical liberal" portrayed by libertarian historical
Ask a Libertarian, Part II: The Constitution as Libertarian Myth
Logan Ferree does a good job of dispelling libertarian myths about
being like classical liberalism and the early USA. He also tries to
distinguish between libertarians and objectivists.
Review of "The Militia And The Right To Bear Arms"
Daniel Smith lauds Uviller and Merkel's historical legal analysis of
the 2nd Amendment, which thoroughly refutes Sanford Levinson and other
individual rights claimants.
A New Paradigm for the Second Amendment
Saul Cornell criticizes much recent scholarship:
"Second Amendment originalists have created something akin to an
alternate history science-fiction fantasy[...]"
The Liberal Idea
Stephen Holmes explains how modern liberals follow the traditions of the
"classical" liberals, contrary to libertarian revisionist propaganda.
Lessons from the Great Depression Blogging
The rightwing/libertarian revisionist idea that the New Deal prolonged
the Great Depression is debunked, with reference to Krugman's schooling
of George Will.
The Libertarian From Nazareth?
Jesus was a libertarian? This guy is serious! What did JC say about
freeing slaves then?
Evolution Is Far Freer Than Classical Liberalism
P. Z. Meyers (of
fame) savages Larry Arnhart's ahistorical claims in
evolution supports classical liberalism.
Further followup here.
An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought
Tony Endres' scathing review of Rothbard's magnum opus.
"Rothbard has produced two volumes which are highly jaundiced
and purblind." From History of
The links here are to
Amazon.com, through their associates program, primarily because of the
review information. Books without links are generally out of print,
and can often be easily found at
AddAll Used and Out Of Print Search.
Good sites for bargain shopping for sometimes expensive new books are
Online Bookstore Price Comparison
AddAll Book Search and Price Comparison.
Both of those list applicable coupons. Another is
"The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez-Faire in the Early Republic"
"The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap"
Basic Books, 2000. How many modern claims of family "institutions" are
Barbara H. Fried
"The Progressive Assault On Laissez Faire: Robert Hale And The First Law And Economics Movement"
Harvard University Press 1998. The first, full-length study of Hale's work,
which showed that "private", unregulated economic relations were in fact
determined by a state imposed regime of property and contract rights which were
hard to square with common-sense notions of social justice.
Dennis Henigan, Bruce Nicholson, David Hemenway
"Guns and the Constitution"
Aletheia Press 1995. A book-length FAQ of refutations of the gun-ownership
propaganda and mythology promulgated by the NRA and gleefully parroted by
libertarians. Essential reading. The
"Guns And The Judiciary" section is now available online.
"Land of Desire"
Vintage Books, 1993.
Discusses the rise of America's consumerist culture and shows how our
capitalist system has depended on government support at every stage of
William J. Novak
"The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America"
Univ. of North Carolina Pr., 1996. "Blasts to pieces... the libertarian
fantasy that until the twentieth century the American state left private
property owners and economic entrepreneurs alone." --Robert W. Gordon,
Yale Law School.
"The Invention of Capitalism : Classical Political Economy and the Secret
History of Primitive Accumulation"
An academic examination of how governments created the preconditions for
capitalism by separating peasants from their land, following the advice of
classical economists such as Adam Smith.
Jack N. Rakove
"Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution"
Pullitzer Prize winning background that helps to understand the fallacies in
simplistic libertarian constitutional interpretations.
"A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government"
(Simon & Schuster 1999) A strong refutation of historical revisionist
interpretations of the Founders and Constitution as supporting antigovernment
Copyright 2007 by Mike Huben ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
This document may be freely distributed for non-commercial purposes if it is reproduced in its textual entirety, with this notice intact.