“When democracy turns, as it often does, into a corrupt plutocracy, both national decadence and social revolution are being prepared.” So wrote the Irish-born historian W. E. H. Lecky (1838–1903) in this devastating assault on mass democracy.
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont visited the United States. From Tocqueville’s copious notes of what he had seen and heard came the classic text De la Démocratie en Amérique, published in two large volumes, the first in 1835, the second in 1840. The first volume focused primarily on political society; the second, on civil society.
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont spent nine months in the U.S. studying American prisons on behalf of the French government. They investigated not just the prison system but indeed every aspect of American public and private life—the political, economic, religious, cultural, and above all the social life of the young nation. From Tocqueville’s copious notes came Democracy in America.
In one volume, Democracy, Liberty, and Property provides an overview of the state constitutional conventions held in the 1820s. With topics as relevant today as they were then, this collection of essential primary sources sheds light on many of the enduring issues of liberty. Emphasizing the connection between federalism and liberty, the debates that took place at these conventions show how questions of liberty were central to the formation of state government, allowing students and scholars to discover important insights into liberty and to develop a better understanding of U.S. history.
William Leggett (1801–1839) was the intellectual leader of the laissez-faire wing of Jacksonian democracy. His diverse writings applied the principle of equal rights to liberty and property. These editorials maintain a historical and contemporary relevance.
Written in response to Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha (1680), the Discourses Concerning Government by Algernon Sidney (1623–1683) has been treasured for more than three centuries as a classic defense of republicanism and popular government.
Economic Sense and Nonsense comprises a collection of sixty essays written by Anthony de Jasay for his monthly column “Reflections from Europe,” on Liberty Fund’s Library of Economics and Liberty website. The articles span the years 2008 to 2012 and focus on economic issues of topical concern in Europe.
This volume, the third in our Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat, includes two of Bastiat’s best-known works, the collected Economic Sophisms and the pamphlet What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen. We are publishing here for the first time in English the Third Series of Economic Sophisms, which Bastiat had planned but died before he could complete the project.
Two series of letters described as “the wellsprings of nearly all ensuing debate on the limits of governmental power in the United States” address the whole remarkable range of issues provoked by the crisis of British policies in North America out of which a new nation emerged from an overreaching empire.
Often described as the culmination of the French Enlightenment, the Encyclopédie was collected not only to serve as a comprehensive reference work, but to “change the way men think” about every aspect of the human and natural worlds. In his celebrated “Preliminary Discourse” to the compilation, d’Alembert traced an entire history of modern philosophy and science designed to chart the way toward a sweeping Baconian project of improving the world through usable knowledge.
This classic study is one of the few books to explore extensively the many facets of envy—“a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being.” Ranging widely over literature, philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences, Professor Schoeck— a distinguished sociologist and anthropologist—elucidates both the constructive and destructive consequences of envy in social life. Perhaps most important, he demonstrates that not only the impetus toward a totalitarian regime but also the egalitarian impulse in democratic societies are alike in being rooted in envy.