Tag: books

Five Great Freedom Books

By Atilla Sulker | United States

By dipping his or her toes into libertarianism, one can find how extensive and comprehensive the literature is. The assortment is indeed full of fresh, fertile ideas comprising of a significant range of perspectives. But it is not just merely the genius of these ideas that makes the collection so comprehensive- it is also the passion behind the libertarian movement that has lead to continuing debate and the bettering of ideas within the movement.

Go visit the Rothbard library for yourself and you will see not just a mere library, but a cultural center, a true marvel. Books on economics, history, philosophy, anthropology, you name it. Rothbard was truly an interdisciplinary genius who devoted his life to reading and writing, hence the vastness of his contributions to libertarian academia.

I am but a budding enthusiast in the liberty movement, and of the massive number of books out there, I have only read a small portion of them. Here, in no particular order, are five books I have read that I think are very worthwhile reads. Some of these books are relatively popular and some were even written by bestselling authors, while others are more obscure and overlooked. Some focus on philosophy, others on economics.

  1. Liberty Defined by Ron Paul

Liberty Defined was the second freedom book that I read, after reading Rand Paul’s Taking a Stand. The book is organized in a very convenient fashion. One doesn’t need to read the book in order. Paul goes through 50 different topics, dedicating a chapter to each, all organized in alphabetical order. The book is a comprehensive treatise on Ron Paul’s positions on various issues, as the book indexes Paul’s position on the issues by chapter. I read the book in order the first time, but the second time, I flipped to random chapters as this can be easily done without throwing off the reader. The reader can quite literally flip to any chapter and become enlightened.

Most chapters are relatively short, but provide a concise account of each topic. Issues discussed include bipartisanship, Zionism, democracy, immigration, global warming, Keynesianism, and many more. This is also the book that introduced me to Austrian economics and the Mises Institute, as there is a chapter dedicated to Austrian economics. Any time there is an issue in the news, or if there is an issue in which you need to prime yourself, pick up the book and find the relevant chapter.

2. Theory and History by Ludwig Von Mises

Theory and History is a very interesting book to say the least and according to Dr. David Gordon, it is one of the easiest Mises books to read. The book is an epistemological and methodological treatise and outlines the praxeological method that ought to be used in the social sciences. Praxeology is the science of human action, with the chief premise being that humans engage in purposeful behavior.

The book sharply rebukes mainstream “scientific” methods of studying economics and establishes the premise that the social sciences differ greatly from the natural sciences in the sense that the social sciences study human action. Human action is entirely unpredictable and hence can not be predicted to the extent that events in the realm of the natural sciences can be predicted. Mises establishes the premise of methodological dualism, which asserts that the method used in the social sciences must be different from the method used in the natural sciences. Mises also discusses history and takes apart the Marxist interpretation of history. He puts emphasis on the free will and takes down such fallacious doctrines as materialism, determinism, and positivism.

3. Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block

Defending the Undefendable is one of those rare books that really gives the reader a mind blowing, mind changing experience. The book essentially does what is says it will do- it defends the undefendable. Block begins by establishing the non- aggression principle and uses this to guide the reader through the rest of the book. The book can actually be very convincing to non-libertarians, providing that the reader is to a degree sympathetic to the NAP, or at the very least has an open mind.

Once the reader considers the NAP, they will be able to understand how Block is able to defend these supposedly vile roles in society. One will see that Block puts heavy emphasis on the concept of voluntary exchange to advance his thesis. For example, in the first chapter titled “The Prostitute”, Block states that prostitution demonstrates a voluntary exchange of fees for sexual services. Reading this one chapter completely changed my perspective of prostitution, though I am still adamantly against prostitution personally.

Anyone who correctly understands the NAP and the concept of voluntary exchange will see that prostitution is actually just a peaceful exchange, just like any other exchange. The beauty of Block’s argument is that he maintains that one can be against prostitution, yet be in support of legalizing it. This is a very important point, and Block’s characterization of prostitution as an exchange helps to advance this point. Among other “evils” that Block defends include the inheritor, the stripminer, the pimp, the drug addict, and the blackmailer.

4. The Case Against the Fed by Murray N. Rothbard

The Case Against the Fed was one of the last books written by Murray Rothbard. It is by far the best take down of the Federal Reserve that I have ever seen, especially considering its mere brevity (at only 158 pages). Take for example End the Fed by Ron Paul. This is also a great book and a sharp rebuke of the Fed, but even this book doesn’t take down the Fed in the same concise, step by step fashion in which Rothbard does. This is a key factor regarding the uniqueness of Rothbard’s book. It is very step by step and makes sure the reader understands the fundamentals before advancing to the topic of the Fed.

Rothbard starts by explaining exchange, loans, and counterfeiting, then begins to advance this and applies it to fractional reserve banking. Towards the middle of the book, Rothbard digresses and begins to talk about the history of the Fed and the competing interests that led to its formation. Towards the end of the book, he beautifully wraps up his thesis and explains how the Fed inflates money.

One will also notice that Rothbard uses a lot of diagrams to represent bank transactions. In this way the reader will see that he is crystal clear with his explanation, and if anything is confusing, it is the concept rather than Rothbard (This is what sets Rothbard apart from Mises, but this should not discourage you from reading the brilliant works of Mises). For this reason, Rothbard makes an excellent choice for someone who is a novice, and this book is a must for anyone who wants to understand central banking.

5. Reassessing the Presidency by John V. Denson and others

Reassessing the Presidency is just the book we in need in this day in age with the growing power of the president and the indoctrination of people into worshiping big government. The book features many essays written by many great libertarian scholars including Joseph Salerno, Thomas DiLorenzo, Thomas Woods, Ralph Raico, and David Gordon among others. These essays take down the fallacious praise given to many American presidents by mainstream historians.

With the infamous libertarian Alabama Judge John Denson as the editor, the collection contains scorching essays on numerous topics including Abraham Lincoln and mercantilism, the abuse of antitrust legislation, and the origins of the American empire. If there is one chapter that I must single out as the most impactful for me, it is the chapter on the electoral college by Randall G. Holcombe. Reading this chapter was one of those mind blowing moments. The thesis is that the American republic was not meant to be a democracy and senators were not meant to be directly elected. This is very important as the 17th amendment, which allows the direct election of senators, has led to steady growth in government. For a more in depth analysis of this topic, read Holcombe’s book From Liberty to Democracy.

Additionally, Reassessing the Presidency also examines some presidents from a more positive view, these presidents including Martin Van Buren and Grover Cleveland. Nonetheless, even when examining libertarian leaning presidents, the authors do not hesitate to acknowledge any of the shortcomings of the presidents. The book starts with a chapter on rating presidents from a libertarian perspective and conveniently ends with a chapter on the impossibility of limited government by Hans-Herman Hoppe. The book is long at 791 pages, but it is nonetheless a very rewarding experience, sharply rebuking mainstream views of the presidency. I would suggest the writing of a second volume which incorporates recent presidents (as this book was written in 2001), as well as presidents that have not been given significant attention within this work.

There are many great books on liberty out there and this list is just a very small sample. I think that some of these works in this list are very overlooked including Theory and History, The Case Against the Fed, and Reassessing the Presidency, so I hope that I have provided you with some further reading. I think all these books are very much standouts and deserve more attention. I now leave you with a list of other great books:

  • The Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul
  • Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
  • The Betrayal of the American Right by Murray Rothbard
  • The Myth of National Defense by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and others
  • Crony Capitalism in America by Hunter Lewis
  • Speaking of Liberty by Lew Rockwell
  • I Chose Liberty by Walter Block
  • Principles of Economics by Carl Menger

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5 Essential Books That Every New Libertarian Should Read

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Books are one of life’s greatest gifts. These bound packages of paper hold knowledge, wisdom, and depth of thought that is difficult to capture in a blog post or news article. The ideas you can get from a book can and will go deeper than any other source of media.

Continue reading “5 Essential Books That Every New Libertarian Should Read”

Jason Stapleton on Trump, Military Experience, and Libertarianism

By Andrew Lepore | United States

I was lucky enough to speak with fellow Libertarian and host of the aptly named Jason Stapleton program, Jason Stapleton. Mr. Stapleton has quite the impressive resume.

Shortly after graduating high school he served in the elite special forces group, Marine force reconnaissance. After leaving the military, he continued to put the skills he acquired in the Marines to use as he worked for one of the largest private security firms in the world, protecting and escorting high profile individuals as they traveled across war-torn nations in the Middle East.

During Jason’s time overseas he developed skills in finance as a foreign exchange currency trader, and his success in trading resulted in him leaving the private security industry, and in 2009 starting his own trade education firm “Trade Empowered”. Along with running his business, he is now the host of the Libertarian Jason Stapleton program which broadcasts live 5 days a week on the topics of free markets, non-interventionist and individual liberties.

With Jason’s unique life experience, his program receiving 9 million-plus digital downloads, 40,000 plus daily listeners, and over 500 episodes published, I had to get an interview with him.

Andrew: Before you went into the Marines, what political ideology did you most identify with, if one at all?’

Jason: I was probably what you would classify as a neoconservative. I definitely was in favor of this idea that you pull yourself up by the bootstraps, that you’re responsible for you.

I had a great distaste, even back then, for this idea that somehow somebody else is entitled to part of what you earn. I just really believed in self-sufficiency. In large part because I watched my mom work 70 hours a week to keep us off welfare. I saw how hard she worked and how she didn’t take handouts and didn’t receive government assistance. She raised three of us on $18,000 a year.

When you look at the amount of work she did and what she was able to accomplish, and we always had food on the table, I took away a sense of pride that you can do it on your own and that you have a responsibility to do it on your own, and nobody else had a responsibility to take care of you.

So in that respect, I think I had a very conservative background. Other than that I didn’t really have a well-formed political ideology.

Andrew: “What drove you to join the military? Is that what you always wanted to do?”

Jason: I wanted to get out of town, you know it’s funny I didn’t want to go to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Again being somebody who was somewhat discerning at the time, I could smell a racket when I saw one.

To me, it seemed like a real hustle for a guy to go to college for two years to learn general education topics so he could then spend the next two years studying what he really wanted to learn.

I’m gonna have to take out a loan for every single penny because I don’t have any money, and my family doesn’t have any money. I really didn’t want to be home anymore.

So I got a chance to shoot guns, travel the world and roll around in the mud and that’s what Marines do, and I wanted to do that. I wanted to be one of those guys, So I signed up. It was a very deliberate decision to become someone who went to war.

I joined the infantry, it was a deliberate decision to join the infantry. I didn’t want to be somebody who cooked, I didn’t want to be somebody who pushed paperwork or drove a truck. I wanted to be somebody who was in the fight, so that’s why I joined the Marines instead of Army or the Navy.

Andrew: Interesting. And that’s an interesting point with college. It’s something I worry about, the raising costs for diminishing returns.

Jason: Oh yeah the cost-benefit analysis is outrageous. Your better off getting an internship or starting your own business and failing three times, and you’ll still have less money out of pocket than if you went to college.

Let’s say you go intern for a year or you work in an accounting office or you go turn wrenches or whatever, that will help you figure out what you want to do with your life. I think there are a lot of kids, most kids, coming out of high school and they don’t have a clue what they want to do with their lives.

So it gives you some time to try out some things and see what you enjoy, and understand what it takes to kinda survive on your own. The best thing is not for your parents to light a fire under your tail to get an education and get a job than working as a night manager at McDonald’s.

That will make you realize just how much it sucks not to have money and not to have opportunity. I highly suggest kids take a look at that as an option unless there dead certain yes I wanna be a doctor or yes I want to be a lawyer, or I want to be in this field that requires me to get a four year education.

Andrew: Describe your experience in the special forces. What was your role?

Jason: I loved my time in the Marines, I spent a lot of time with Marine force recon unit, before that I was in the sniper unit. I made some incredible friends in my time with the marines.

I got to spend my days shooting stuff, blowing stuff up and tracing through the jungle and the desserts. I never actually went to combat with the Marines, I was deployed after 9/11 to Indonesia and Australia rather than Afghanistan. So I never actually went to the Middle East until I got out of the marines and I joined a contracting company called Blackwater.

I worked as a private military contractor for the state department, working with the provisional reconstruction team that basically provided security to diplomats and workers who were building roads and digging wells. My job was to provide security, its called high threat personal security work.

I did a variety of things like drive trucks, did close protection work, provided sniper overwatch, I did a whole bunch of different things based on what they needed. I also did low profile work with people who maybe couldn’t get a government escort, those who couldn’t get the state department to pay for there security detail.

They were somebody who needed a little more discretion when they moved so we would move around in gypsy vans and mystery machines and we would dress like locals and dress them up as locals and drive them around town so they would be less obvious.

Because when your driving for the state department or department of defense you got humvees you got up-armor vehicles everyone kinda knows who you are and your signature is a lot bigger.

But with the low profile stuff, you couldn’t tell us apart from anybody else on the street. So just depending on what they needed and what the contract called for that’s what I went out and did.

Andrew: That’s interesting stuff. I’ve never talked to somebody with that sort of life experience

Jason: Yeah well there’s plenty of us you know, it was a crazy time, 2005 -2010 basically was when I was contracting. I was everywhere from Northern Iraq and Mosul and Erbil to Koble and you know all over Afghanistan. So yeah it was an interesting time.

Andrew: When did you come across the libertarian ideology? Was it during or after you were overseas? How did you discover it?

Jason: You know when I was overseas, I started to recognize that what Republicans stood for, I didn’t fully agree with, and I certainly wasn’t progressive. At that time I didn’t really know that there were other options.

So one of the things I started doing when I was overseas was trading currencies. So I really started studying international finance, studying the way currencies work and central banks operate as I was trying to really understand the business I wanted to be in.

I ended up learning a lot about the really shady stuff that the government and banks do that manipulate our currency and our monetary system. In doing that I believe I bought a whole bunch of books on gold and somehow, I ended up getting Ron Paul’s book A Libertarian Manifesto, and I read that book and it was if though somebody had taken all of the things I believed and did not know how to explain, and put it all in a book.

Before that, I thought Ron Paul was a kind of cookey old man, and had watched him and thought it was funny, and you know I agreed with some of the things he said. But to me, he was just another crazy old man in Washington.

When I read that book, he wrote so clearly, and it was so articulate in the way he expressed the message, I think I was converted instantly at that point.

I went out and I bought like 20 other books on Libertarianism, Libertarian philosophy, Austrian economics and started studying these things diligently. I kinda spend the next couple of years doing that, refining what my beliefs were. Ever since then I’ve classified myself as a libertarian.

Andrew: That’s interesting as that has been how so many other libertarians have come across the ideology. They read a book or hear a speech by Ron Paul and they end up either being instantly converted or they begin the process of being converted.

Jason: Yeah it’s interesting how many people come to it when they encounter a book or a conversation. One of the things people don’t come to Libertarianism through is by getting bashed online by somebody else who challenges there opinions and trying to destroy them.

You do it by taking somebody who is already predisposed to the message and showing them the way. And that’s one of the things that I’ve tried to figure out how to do as I work my show I try to figure out a way to break down psychologically the defense mechanisms people have and do what Is called pre-framing, where what you do is you actually set someone up to be predisposed to hear your message.

One of the reasons why when somebody asks me what I believe or I’m trying to convince somebody ill tell them I believe we shouldn’t hurt people and we shouldn’t take their stuff because 99 out of 100 people will say well I agree with that.

What that does is create alignment between the two of us, and it makes it more difficult to challenge my opinions when I put forth more of my arguments.

So in doing that I try to understand there are some people, I’m not going to convince, but anybody with even the slightest predisposition to my argument I want to put as many things in my favor as possible to try to make sure they understand my argument and are convinced after.

Andrew: What’re your general views on Trump and his foreign policy?

Jason: I think Trump’s foreign policy approach is combative, I think he treats it a lot like a competition like in business. So if people are willing to give him what he considers a fair deal he’s going to go along with you and treat you well as long as you treat him well.

He’s gonna start the conversation from his position of strength or what he considers his position of strength so that he’s not negotiating on his back foot. As near as I can tell that’s how he operates period.

Now In terms of his trade policy, I don’t agree with it. I certainly don’t agree with military intervention overseas.Truthfully Trump hasn’t done a lot. He’s put in these steel tariffs that are going to be bad for America.

He’s continued the interventions overseas. He’s not much different than any other politician you run into honestly. He’s got some bad economic ideas and he’s got some good ones, and for the most part, he’s painting between the lines he’s not painting outside the lines.

Andrew: Exactly he’s not really principled, he just kind of goes with the wind.

Jason: Yeah and I’m not sure what that is. I’m not sure if there is an underlying method to his madness. Because one of the things that Trump does to negotiate a better deal is he comes off as erratic, and he may very well be erratic Or maybe he’s playing a game.

One of the difficult things with Trump is figuring out what he really believes and what he really thinks because he is constantly waffling and flip-flopping. The one constant he’s following is that he wants to build a wall.

We at 71 Republic sincerely appreciate Mr.Stapleton putting the time in to do this interview with us. Be sure to visit his website JasonStapleton.com, follow him on Instagram @JasonStapleton0321 and on twitter @Jason_Stapleton

Follow me on Instagram @Mass_Liberty, on Twitter @MALibertarian76, and check out my archived works at MassLiberty.wordpress.com.