The Online Library of Liberty

The aim of the OLL is to provide thousands of titles about individual liberty, limited constitutional government, and the free market, free of charge to the public, for educational purposes.

The Online Library of Liberty makes available at no charge to the public outstanding resources for teaching & learning about individual liberty. It has won a number of international awards and recognition from such bodies as the Library of Congress (we were selected for the Minerva Arching Project), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the British Arts & Humanities Research Council.

The works of hundreds of authors from Ancient Sumeria to the present are represented. They are organized by author, historical period, and schools of thought. The latter includes the French Enlightenment, the Founding Fathers, 19th century natural rights theorists, the Austrian School of Economics, and many others.

Liberty Matters

Every two months the OLL hosts an online forum for scholars to discuss the significance of some of the key works in the OLL collection. A lead article on the topic is posted which is followed by 3 or more response essays and then open debate. Topics covered so far include Eric Mack on “John Locke on Property,” Geoffrey Brennan on “James Buchanan: An Assessment,” and Roderick Long on “Gustave de Molinari’s Legacy for Liberty”.

Visit the Online Library of Liberty

Recent Posts

Here are the 10 latest posts from OLL.

OLL April 18, 2017

Liberty Matters: Israel M. Kirzner and the Entrepreneurial Market Process (March 2017) (Peter J. Boettke)

Liberty Matters: Israel M. Kirzner and the Entrepreneurial Market Process (March 2017) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2017).

OLL January 5, 2017

BOLL 74: John Millar, "Circumstances which tend to increase the power of the Sovereign" (1771) (John Millar)

The Best of the OLL No. 74: John Millar, “Circumstances which tend to increase the power of the Sovereign” (1771) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2017).

OLL October 14, 2016

The Origins of Contemporary France: The Ancien Regime (Hippolyte Taine)

*The Origins of Contemporary France: The Ancien Regime, trans. John Durant (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1876).

OLL October 14, 2016

The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II (Hippolyte Taine)

The Origins of Contemporary France: The Modern Regime, vol. II, trans. John Durand (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1894).

OLL September 22, 2016

Institutes of Divine Jurisprudence. With Selections from Foundations of the Law of Nature and Nations (Christian Thomasius)

Institutes of Divine Jurisprudence. With Selections from Foundations of the Law of Nature and Nations. Edited, Translated, and with an Introduction by Thomas Ahnert (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).

OLL June 22, 2016

Liberty Matters: Rationalism, Pluralism, and the History of Liberal Ideas (May 2016) (Jacob T. Levy)

OLL June 21, 2016

Liberty Matters: Ludwig von Mises and the Theory of Interventionism (March, 2016) (Sanford Ikeda)

Liberty Matters: Ludwig von Mises and the Theory of Interventionism (March, 2016) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2016).

OLL June 21, 2016

Liberty Matters: The Significance of Lysander Spooner (Jan. 2016) (Randy E. Barnett)

Liberty Matters: The Significance of Lysander Spooner (Jan. 2016) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2016).

OLL June 20, 2016

Theory of Moral Sentiments and Essays on Philosophical Subjects (Adam Smith)

Essays On, I. Moral Sentiments: II. Astronomical Inquiries; III. Formation of Languages; IV. History of Ancient Physics; V. Ancient Logic and Metaphysics; VI. The Imitative Arts; VII. Music, Dancing, Poetry; VIII. The External Senses; IX. English and Italian Verses, ed. Joseph Black and James Hutton (London: Alex. Murray & Son, 1869).

OLL April 26, 2016

Commentary on Filangieri’s Work (Benjamin Constant)

Commentary on Filangieri’s Work. Translated, Edited, and with an Introduction by Alan S. Kahan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2015).

Here are the 10 latest posts from OLL | Liberty Matters.

OLL | Liberty Matters May 18, 2017

George H. Smith, "The System of Liberty" (September 2013)

This is a discussion of George H. Smith’s new book The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism published by Cambridge University Press (2013). Smith describes how he came to write the book, the works of the history of political thought which inspired him (in particular the writings of the German legal historian Otto von Gierke), and the methodology he uses in approaching the history of ideas (Locke’s idea of “the presumption of coherence”). He demonstrates his approach with a brief discussion of one of the key ideas he has identified in the history of classical liberal thought, namley, the idea of “inalienable rights,” or to phrase it in the terminology of 17th century natural rights philosophers like Pufendorf, the distinction between “perfect and imperfect rights.” His essay is discussed by Jason Brennan, assistant professor of strategy, economics, ethics, and public policy at Georgetown University; David Gordon, Senior Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute; and Ralph Raico, Professor Emeritus of History at the Buffalo State College.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

OLL | Liberty Matters May 17, 2017

Stephen Davies, "Richard Cobden: Ideas and Strategies in Organizing the Free-Trade Movement in  Britain" (January 2015)

Today it is easy to be despondent about the prospects of bringing about radical change in public policy or the political and social order. Policies that are widely recognized to be foolish and self-defeating (such as the “war on drugs”) seem to be immoveable.  There are a plethora of analyses of faults in policy or in political institutions, but most of these lack the crucial ingredient of a plausible way of getting from A to B, from where we are now to somewhere better. However, history gives us a number of counterexamples that should lead us to think more carefully about how to understand both the need for certain kinds of political change and the ways of achieving this. One of the most striking of these counterexamples is the career of Richard Cobden and in particular the way that he pioneered forms of advocacy and organization in the Anti-Corn Law League in the late 1830s and early 1840s that were highly effective in his own time, had long-lasting effects, and are still relevant today. The Lead Essay has been written by Steve Davies who is education director at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. The commentators are Gordon Bannerman who is a freelance writer and researcher, Professor Anthony Howe who is professor of modern history at the University of East Anglia, and Sarah Richardson who is associate professor of history at the University of Warwick.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

OLL | Liberty Matters May 1, 2017

Nicholas Buccola, “Frederick Douglass on the Right and Duty to Resist” (May, 2017)

Nicolas Buccola, a professor of political Science at Linfield College, discusses the moral problem Frederick Douglass raised in the 1850s about the justice of using violence to resist the evil of slavery. Douglass was radicalized both by his own experience of being a slave and using violence against a notorious “slave breaker,” as well as by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and how to oppose the state-sanctioned policy of kidnapping runaway slaves and returning them to their “owners.” Buccola points to a number of troubling aspects about Douglass “robust conception of duty to vindicate the natural rights” of slaves, especially as it relates to the present time. He is joined in the discussion by Helen J. Knowles is an assistant professor of political science at the State University of New York at Oswego, Peter C. Myers Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and the independent scholar George H. Smith.

OLL | Liberty Matters April 1, 2017

Peter J. Boettke, "Israel M. Kirzner on Competitive Behavior, Industrial Structure, and the Entrepreneurial Market Process" (March, 2017)

In this Liberty Matters online discussion Peter Boettke of George Mason University examines Israel Kirzner’s insights into the rivalrous nature of competitive behavior and the market process, his analysis of market theory and the operation of the price system, the institutional environment that enables a market economy to realize mutual gains from trade and to continuously discover gains from innovation, and to produce a system characterized by economic growth and wealth creation. Boettke concludes by arguing that Kirzner has done more than nearly any other living modern economist to improve our understanding of competitive behavior and the operation of the price system in a market economy. Boettke is joined in the discussion by Peter G. Klein, professor of entrepreneurship at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, Mario Rizzo, professor of economics at New York University, and Frédéric Sautet, associate professor at The Catholic University of America. Boettke and Sautet are the editors of Liberty Fund’s 10 volume The Collected Works of Israel M. Kirzner.

OLL | Liberty Matters February 14, 2017

Knud Haakonssen, "Pufendorf on Power and Liberty" (January, 2017)

Knud Haakonssen, of the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural & Social Studies, University of Erfurt, examines the political thought of the German protestant theorist of natural law, Samuel von Pufendorf (1632-1694). Pufendorf was much admired by John Locke, and made important contributions to natural law theory, especially the The Law of Nature and Nations (1672), German constitutional theory, and European history. In the immediate aftermath of the Thirty Years War (1618-48) Pufendorf appealed to educated Europeans using arguments derived from natural law and his study of history “to live sociably,” i.e. people had to be brought to see that this was the necessary requirement for their chance of leading whatever life they wished to pursue. Knud Haakonssen is joined in the discussion by Aaron Garrett from Boston University, Ian Hunter from the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland, and Michael Zuckert from the University of Notre Dame.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

OLL | Liberty Matters December 4, 2016

David M. Hart, “Classical Liberalism and the Problem of Class” (Nov. 2016)

It is not well known that classical liberal thought has had a strong tradition within it of thinking about “class”, namely the idea that one group of people live off the labor and taxes of another group of people. In this discussion David Hart, the Director of Liberty Fund’s Online Library of Liberty, explores this “other tradition” of thinking about class which can be traced back to the 17th century and which was was taken up again by Murray Rothbard in the 1950s and 1960s in what he describes as the “Rothbardian synthesis” of classical liberal class analysis, Austrian economics, and New Left class analysis. He provides a brief survey of its history, examines some of the key concepts within this tradition, and raises some problems which contemporary scholars need to explore further, in particular the theoretical coherence and usefulness of the “Rothbardian synthesis.” He is joined in the discussion by Gary Chartier, Distinguished Professor of Law and Business Ethics at La Sierra University in Riverside, California; Steve Davies, the education director at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London; Jayme Lemke, a senior research fellow and associate director of academic and student programs at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; and the independent scholar George H. Smith.

See the archive of Liberty Matters.

OLL | Liberty Matters November 26, 2016

David M. Hart, "On the Spread of (Classical) Liberal Ideas" (March 2015)

In this Liberty Matters online discussion forum we explore a number of issues concerning the role ideas have had in changing societies by examining several historical examples such as the anti-slavery movement in Britain and America in the first half of the 19th century, Richard Cobden and the free trade movement, and the rebirth of classical liberal and free market ideas after the Second World War. In the Lead Essay David Hart surveys the field of ideological movements and present a theory of ideological production and distribution based upon Austrian capital theory as it might be applied to the production of ideas. The commentators are Stephen Davies who is education director at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London; David Gordon who is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute; Jason Kuznicki who is a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and Editor, Cato Unbound; Peter Mentzel who is a Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund; Jim Powell who is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute; George H. Smith who is an independent scholar and contributor to libertarianism.org; and Jeffrey Tucker who is a distinguished fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education, editor at Laissez Faire Books, and founder of Liberty.me.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

OLL | Liberty Matters October 2, 2016

David Womersley, "John Trenchard and the Opposition to Standing Armies" (September, 2016)

John Trenchard (1662-1723) was a radical Whig and Commonwealthman who, along with his collaborator Thomas Gordon (1692-1750), were important voices defending constitutionalism and individual liberty in the 1720s in England. Trenchard came from a prominent family, went to Trinity College, Dublin, and briefly served in the House of Commons. He worked as a journalist in the 1690s writing works criticising the idea of standing armies and the political power of the established church. Trenchard co-wrote The Independent Whig (1720-21) and Cato’s Letters (1720-23) with Gordon. He was a defender of the idea of liberty against political corruption, imperialism and militarism in the early 18th century. Their writings, especially Cato’s Letters, were also much read in the American colonies. In this Liberty Matters discussion David Wommersley, the Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, revisits Trenchard’s criticisms of standing armies in the light of the continuing relevance of the question of where to locate, in whose hands to place, and how to exercise the state’s powers of deadly military force. He is joined in the discussion by Stephen P. Halbrook, an attorney in Fairfax, Virginia, the independent historian Joseph R. Stromberg, and David Wootton, the Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York.

See the archive of Liberty Matters.

OLL | Liberty Matters August 3, 2016

John E. Alvis, “The Corrupting Influence of Power in Shakespeare's Plays" (July 2016)

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) the discussion this month will focus on “The Corrupting Influence of Power in Shakespeare’s Plays". Lord Acton famously maintained that “power tends to corrupt. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Shakespeare’s plays qualify as so many imaginative investigations into the consequences of possessing power. From one perspective his dramas depict the effects of possessing power upon the soul of the person thus endowed. At the same time the plays portray the transitive effects of exercising power upon those who find themselves subject to the possessors of means to benefit or to harm. For both those who apply their power and those subject to the wielder thereof, Shakespeare’s works display the exercise of power to have consequences that bear upon one’s understanding of liberty and responsibility.The lead essay is by John E. Alvis, professor of English and director of American Studies at the University of Dallas, and the other participants are Sarah Skwire who is a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc., David V. Urban who is a professor of English at Calvin College, and Michael Zuckert who is Nancy R. Dreux Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

See the archive of Liberty Matters.

OLL | Liberty Matters June 21, 2016

Sanford Ikeda,"The Misesian Paradox: Interventionism Is Not Sustainable" (March 2016)

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) developed the theory of "interventionism" during the 1920s to describe the hybrid economic system which had emerged after World War 1 which was neither fully free nor fully centrally planned (as the Soviet Union was attempting to do). In a book written during World War 2, Interventionism: An Economic Analysis (1940), he gathered his thoughts together in a more coherent work. His claim was that an economy based upon interventionism was not stable in the long run since each act of intervention in the economy caused problems which could only be solved either by the repeal of that act of intervention and a return to a fully free economy, or further acts of intervention which would ultamtely lead to fully-fledged socialism. Sanford Ikeda, professor of economics at Purchase College SUNY, returns to the original problem posed by Mises in 1940 to examine it in the light of the work down in Austrian economic theory since then. He is joined in the discussion by Christopher Coyne, associate professor of economics at George Mason University, Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, and Jeremy Shearmur, Emeritus Fellow in the School of Philosophy, Australian National University.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

Here are the 10 latest posts from OLL | Images of Liberty.

Mises on Gresham’s Law and Ancient Greek Silver Coins

In an Appendix to his The Theory of Money and Credit (1912) the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) discussed the value of a silver coin issued by Gelon the King of Syracuse in 480 BC. A picture of the coin was used on the original cover of the book. Mises was interested in these coins because he believed that sound currency emerged in the ancient world as a result of the productive economic activity which went on in places such as Lydia (Turkey) and Athens. These places remained economically powerful only so long as they retained a sound currency, which he believed Athens did and the other Greek city states did not. The Appendix about this coin is included below along with the illustration.

OLL | Images of Liberty December 4, 2016

Ngrams and the Changing Vocabulary of Class Analysis in 19th Century Classical Liberal Thought

| | | Honoré Daumier, "The Army Hierarchy" (1850s)
[See higher resolution image] |

What are Ngrams?

According to the Wikipedia article on The Google Ngram Viewer:

The Google Ngram Viewer or Google Books Ngram Viewer is an online search engine that charts frequencies of any set of comma-delimited search strings using a yearly count of n-grams found in sources printed between 1500 and 2008 in Google's text corpora in American English, British English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, or Chinese, generated in either 2008 or 2012; there are also some specialized English-language corpora, such as English Fiction. ...

The program can search for a single word or a phrase, including misspellings or gibberish. The n-grams are matched with the text within the selected corpus, optionally using case-sensitive spelling (which compares the exact use of uppercase letters), and, if found in 40 or more books, are then plotted on a graph.

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Ngram_Viewer>

Art of the Levellers

In the course of putting together a multi-volume collection of over 240 Leveller Tracts I came across some very interesting title pages which used typography and occasionally woodcuts to add graphical force to the political and economic arguments being made by the authors. The pamphlets were published in their thousands during the 1640s and 1650s - the London bookseller George Thomason collected 23,000 of them over a period of twenty years and these comprise a major collection which is held by the British Library.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Samuel warns the Israelites of the Dangers of Kings

24vb-450.jpg

"Saul is ordered to destroy all the Amalekites and their livestock,"
[page 24 verso, lower panel]
The Morgan Picture Bible (c. 1250)

Many Christians in 17th century England and 17th and 18th century North America were struck by some passages in I Samuel in which the prophet Samuel warned about the dangers a King would pose to the liberties of the Israelite people. This struck a chord with those who were fighting the growing power of the Stuart monarchy or the efforts of the British Empire to exert its power over the North American colonies. The art we have chosen to illustrate these passages come from the Illustrated Bible commissioned by King Louis IX (1214-1270) of France in the mid-13th century. They provide a stark contrast to the anti-monarchical sentiment of 17th and 18th century Englishmen. Louis IX arranged for these illustrations to be made because he wanted to assert his divine right to rule France and saw in the commands of Samuel and the actions of King Saul both historical and theological precedent upon which he could draw to justify his own behavior.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

To celebrate Bastille Day this year we have a beautiful poster which was printed at the time of the issuing of the Declaration to spread its message throughout the country. It was designed to be hung in public places so that ordinary people could see what the Assembly was doing in their name. George Jellinek in his study of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens (1895, English trans. by Max Farand 1901) argues that the French were strongly influenced by the precedents of the American states' constitutions and bill of rights which were developed during the American Revolution. Here is an example:

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Adam Smith and J.B. Say on the Division of Labour

One of the most famous stories in economics is Adam Smith's story of the pin-maker. It has been repeated endlessly by other economists as it encapsulates quite nicely one of the key insights of economic analysis, namely the benefits of the division of labor. It would have to rank alongside Frédéric Bastiat's story of the broken window in popularity. The purpose of the story is to illustrate how much greater output could be achieved if numerous workers cooperated by taking one small task each in building a complex good like a pin or a nail. Adam Smith developed his ideas about the division of labour in the 1760s and 1770 as he was giving lectures and writing the Wealth of Nations (1776). At the same time Denis Diderot in France was compiling the famous Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers which appeared between 1751 and 1772. The articles in the Encyclopédie were accompanied by beautifully drawn illustrations, such as the ones we include below of a pin factory. Members of both the Scottish and French enlightenments were facsinated by the opportunities offered by technological and economic change in such things as seemingly "very trifling" as the making of a pin.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Ludwig von Mises on Rationing in WW2

Monday 13 February 2012

During the war years the Austrian-American free market economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) wrote a number of books which criticised government intervention and control of the economy, especially price controls, rationing, policies of economic autarchy, the diversion of labor and other resources to war production, and the financing of the war through loans, confiscation, and inflation. While Mises was living and working in the U.S. he would have seen the propaganda produced by the American government encouraging U.S. citizens to make sacrifices for the war effort, such as the use of "ration books" and price controls in order to allocate resources away from consumers and towards war industries, to seek work in "essential" war industries and the transport of munitions, and to forgo the use of certain products essential to the war effort such as fats and rubber. We reproduce some of these imageshere.

 

Rationing_450.jpg

 

 

Herbert Roese, "Rationing means a fair share for all of us" (American Office of Price Administration, 1943)

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

New Picture of Tocqueville in 1848

Friday 10 February 2012

While putting Tocqueville's "Recollections" online I found this lovely "photogravure" picture of him here which I compare to a contemporary picture of Bastiat, both of whom served in the Chamber of Deputies during the 1848 Revolution.

 

Tocqueville_Recollections1600-portrait400.jpg

 

 

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Tocqueville and Bastiat on the 1848 Revolution in Paris

This very nice image of Alexis de Tocqueville (with signature) comes from a 1896 translation of his memoir or "recollection"' of the 1848 Revolution in France. It is described as a "heliogravure" which is a form of photogravure whereby a copper plate is covered by a light sensitive sheet which has been exposed to the image and then etched, leaving a precise reproduction. In the picture Tocqueville looks to be the right age (about 43) for this to be an image taken at about the same time as the events discussed in his "recollections". In the accompanying essay we display this iamge with a quotation from the Recollections about the first day he sat in the Constituent Assembly in May 1848. Alongside this we also have a similar picture of and quotation from Frédéric Bastiat who was also a Deputy in the Constituent Assembly.  

Tocqueville_Recollections1600-portrait400.jpg

Alexis de Tocqueville in 1848

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

The Gold Standard vs. Fiat Paper Money

  Germany-M20-1900-600.jpg

10BillionMark-1923-600.jpg

Top: a 20 Mark Gold Coin - Deutsches Reich, Wilhelm II German Emperor and King of Prussia (1900)
Bottom: a 10 Billion Mark German banknote (October 1923)

As the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) noted, during the 19th century all the major European powers developed currencies based upon the gold standard (such as this German Imperial 20 Mark coin issued in 1900, above). This policy was strongly supported by classical liberals as it provided a powerful means by which the power of government to debase or otherwise manipulate their currencies was severely restricted. During and immediately after the First World War (1914-1918) the connection between a nation's currency and gold became much looser, or even non-existent as in the case of the hyper-inflation which gripped Germany during the Weimar Republic (1922-23). The bottom image is of a 10 billion mark Mark banknote dated 26 October 1923 at the peak (or depth) of the hyperinflation when paper money had become all but worthless. Mises wrote a number of important essays on monetary and banking policy in the mid and late 1920s in which he denounced this move away from the gold standard and predicted that it would lead to severe economic dislocation, the political manipulation of currencies, and even the collapse of the monetary system.

Here are the 10 latest posts from OLL | Quotations.

OLL | Quotations January 24, 2017

Mises on wealth creation and stopping the spirit of predatory militarism (1949)

Mises on wealth creation and stopping the spirit of predatory militarism (1949)

OLL | Quotations September 19, 2016

Herbert Spencer observes that class structures emerge in societies as a result of war and violence (1882)

Herbert Spencer observes that class structures emerge in societies as a result of war and violence (1882)

OLL | Quotations September 19, 2016

Herbert Spencer notes that traditionally the growth in government revenue has come about because of war (1882)

Herbert Spencer notes that traditionally the growth in government revenue has come about because of war (1882)

OLL | Quotations September 7, 2016

Jeremy Bentham argued that the ruling elite benefits from corruption, waste, and war (1827)

Jeremy Bentham argued that the ruling elite benefits from corruption, waste, and war (1827)

OLL | Quotations September 7, 2016

Thomas Gordon on how people are frightened into giving up their liberties (1722)

Thomas Gordon on how people are frightened into giving up their liberties (1722)

OLL | Quotations August 3, 2016

Shakespeare on the ruler who has “the power to hurt and will do none” (1609)

Shakespeare on the ruler who has “the power to hurt and will do none” (1609)

OLL | Quotations August 3, 2016

The Levellers’ Declaration of Independence (March 1647)

The Levellers’ Declaration of Independence (March 1647)

OLL | Quotations June 20, 2016

Adam Smith on why people obey and defer to their rulers (1759)

Adam Smith on why people obey and defer to their rulers (1759)

OLL | Quotations May 2, 2016

Madame de Staël on how liberty is ancient and despotism is modern (1818)

Madame de Staël on how liberty is ancient and despotism is modern (1818)

OLL | Quotations January 13, 2016

Nassau Senior on how the universal acceptance of gold and silver currency creates a world economy (1830)

Nassau Senior on how the universal acceptance of gold and silver currency creates a world economy (1830)

Here are the 10 latest posts from OLL | Liberty Fund Books.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books September 22, 2016

Institutes of Divine Jurisprudence. With Selections from Foundations of the Law of Nature and Nations (Christian Thomasius)

First published in 1688, Thomasius’s Institutes attempted to draw a clear distinction between natural and revealed law and to emphasize that human reason was able to know the precepts of natural law without the aid of Scripture. His Foundations published in 1705 revised the theory he had put forward in the Institutes.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books April 26, 2016

Commentary on Filangieri’s Work (Benjamin Constant)

The Commentary is Constant’s most extensive treatment of economic matters. It is a response to a multi-volume work by the Italian jurist Gaetano Filangiero, The Science of Legislation (1780-88). Constant defends limited government and a policy of laissez-faire.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books December 14, 2015

A Treatise on Political Economy (LF ed.) (Antoine Louis Claude, Comte Destutt de Tracy)

Destutt de tracy’s Treatise on Political Economy is a foundational text of nineteenth-century, free-market economic thought and remains one of the classics of nineteenth-century French economic liberalism. Destutt de Tracy was one of the founders of the classical liberal republican group known as the Idéologues, which included Jean-Baptiste Say, Marquis de Condorcet, and Pierre Cabanis. In this volume, Destutt de Tracy provides one of the clearest statements of the economic principles of the Idéologues. Placing the entrepreneur at the center of his view of economic activity, he argues against the luxurious consumption of the idle rich and recommends a market economy with low taxation and minimum state intervention. Destutt de Tracy sent the text of A Treatise on Political Economy to Thomas Jefferson in hopes of securing its translation in the United States. It was met with enthusiastic approval. Jefferson wrote to the publisher, “The merit of this work will, I hope, place it in the hands of every reader in our country.”

OLL | Liberty Fund Books August 20, 2015

Reflections on the Rise and Fall of the Ancient Republicks (Edward Wortley Montagu)

Montagu’s warnings in Reflections on the Rise and Fall of the Ancient Republicks are unusual in that each of the five states he examines supplies a separate lesson adapted to the needs of Britain during the crisis. Sparta instructs modern Britain to suppress commerce, refinement, and opulence and to bolster the landed interest. Athens warns of the dangerous levity of a democratical form of government, of the disastrous influence the people can exercise over the constitution and policy of a state if they are not checked by a powerful and confident aristocracy, of the proneness of the people to encourage charismatic despotism, and lastly of the folly of foreign entanglements and empire-building. Thebes, more encouragingly, demonstrates the potency of a “very small number of virtuous patriots” to save a state from corruption. The calamitous Carthaginian experience with mercenaries shows the incomparable superiority of a militia over hired soldiers. Finally, Rome plays her usual role of showing the fatal consequences of luxury. In the end, it was the Epicurean atheism of the Roman upper classes that gave the coup de grâce to the Roman state; an interpretation of Roman decline that paves the way for Montagu’s censure of British irreligion in his own day.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books February 10, 2015

Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises, vol. 3: The Political Economy of International Reform and Reconstruction (Ludwig von Mises)

Vol. 3 of a three volume collection of Mises' essays found in Moscow in 1996. Vol. 3 contains essays on postwar reconstruction, American foreign trade policy, monetary policy, and plans for European union.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books February 10, 2015

Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises, vol. 2: Between the Two World Wars: Monetary Disorder, Interventionism, Socialism, and the Great Depression (Ludwig von Mises)

Vol. 2 of a three volume collection of Mises' essays found in Moscow in 1996. Vol. 2 contains essays on inflation, interventionism, the great depression, Austrian economic policy, autarchy, the theory of Austrian economics, and economic calculation under socialism.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books February 10, 2015

Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises, 3 vols (Ludwig von Mises)

A three volume collection of Mises writings from the so-called “lost papers” which were found in a Moscow archive in 1996. There were seized by the Gestapo originally and then taken back to Russia after the war by the Russian government. Vol. 1 deals with “Monetary and Economic Problems Before, During, and After the Great War”; vol. 2 with “Between the Two World Wars: Monetary Disorder, Interventionism, Socialism, and the Great Depression”; and vol. 3 with “The Political Economy of International reform and Reconstruction.” They have been edited by Richard M. Ebeling.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 3, 2014

Principles of Equity (Henry Home, Lord Kames)

Principles of Equity was first published in 1760 is Kames most lasting contribution to jurisprudence. He sought to explain the distinction between the nature of equity and common law and to address related questions, such as whether equity should be bound by rules and whether there should be separate courts of law and equity. The Principles is divided into three books. The first two, “theoretical,” books examine the powers of a court of equity as derived from justice and from utility, the two great principles Kames felt governed equity. The third book aims to be more practical, showing the application of these powers to several subjects, such as bankrupts.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books September 30, 2014

Social Contract, Free Ride: A Study of the Public Goods Problem (Anthony de Jasay)

Jasay refutes the common idea that we need a government as a provider of public goods. He argues that without taxation voluntary contributions to provide freely accessible benefits would be made by some members of groups adjusting their actions to the anticipated actions of other group members. Jasay concludes that when indivisibilities and the risks of non-provision are duly accounted for, voluntary contribution is an individually rational choice. The key argument for coercion turns out to be indecisive, and the need for a social contract at best unproven.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books July 21, 2014

To Secure the Blessings of Liberty: Selected Writings (Gouverneur Morris)

A single-volume collection of Gouverneur Morris’s writings. Morris served as Deputy Superintendent of Finance during the American Revolution, in which capacity he devised the system of decimal coinage. He was a prominent member of the Constitutional Convention, where he spoke more frequently than any other member and, as a member of the Committee on Style and Arrangement, put the Constitution in its present form and authored its Preamble. As a private citizen in Paris, and later Minister to France (1789–94), Morris was a firsthand witness of the French Revolution. On his return to the U.S., he served as a U.S. Senator, was a prime mover in the creation of the Erie Canal, and took a leading role as a critic of the Jefferson and Madison administrations. Providing his unique perspective, this is a wonderful and accessible single source that illuminates the political and economic thought of Gouverneur Morris.