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Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. April 2014

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Tom G. Palmer is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and vice president for International Programs at the Atlas Foundation in Washington, D.C.

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A Great Collection of Effective and Enjoyable Essays 2. September 2009
Von Alexander Pitsinos - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Tom Palmer masterfully examines the ideas of liberty in Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice. The breadth of this examination is remarkable. As the volume's subtitle suggests, the essays discuss both the theoretical and the practical, and Palmer effectively engages the reader regardless of whether he is writing for an academic or popular audience.

Readers with a general interest in political theory, economics or history will enjoy essays like "Twenty Myths about Markets," in which the author considers and answers common ethical and economic critiques of market economies. Another piece, "Why Socialism Collapsed in Eastern Europe," reflects on socialism's failed promises and its profound effect on the political culture of that region. The serious student of political philosophy ought to read "No Exit: Framing the Problem of Justice," wherein Palmer conducts a serious and rigorous analysis of John Rawls' theory and draws attention to some of its potentially illiberal implications.

Those more steeped in libertarian or classical liberal thought may appreciate "What's Not Wrong with Libertarianism," in which Palmer discusses the relationship between a theory of rights and the importance of evaluating consequences. While some critics charge that it is contradictory to promote a theory of natural rights and then employ empirical evidence to support those rights claims, Palmer deftly makes the case for compatibility and highlights the poor assumptions of such criticism. In an included book review, Palmer assesses an attempt to hijack the term "libertarian" by a proponent of "radically egalitarian redistribution." This book review, titled "John Locke Lite," illustrates Palmer's ability to communicate complicated theory clearly and convincingly. I even found it humorous!

This volume is a delight. Palmer has a wonderful talent for making deep ideas accessible. His passion for freedom is exceptional and leaves the reader inspired. These essays belong in your collection.
13 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A timely collection of brilliant and provocative papers in defense of open society. 16. Oktober 2009
Von Maria J. de Calderon - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In our time, the open society around the world has come under severe attack including in the United States, going back to at least Franklin Roosevelt's administration and continuing more recently with the administration of George W. Bush (who relied on state intervention "to save the free market" sic) and that of Barack Obama. Individual rights are being replaced by affirmative action; private property is undermined by socialist ecology; the war on drugs is destroying individual liberties; state education (as opposed to "public education" because private education is also for the public) has turned into indoctrination; public expenditure, federal debt and fiscal deficits are increasing at an exponential rate; compulsory bailouts with other peoples' resources are paving the way for another crisis; legislation is on its way to intensify socialized medicine; the so-called Social Security program will soon go bankrupt; the monetization of debt and the manipulation of interest rates by the Federal Reserve are destroying the dollar; and there are always new wars to fight in the name of security.

In this climate of affairs nothing could be more timely than the collection of brilliant and provocative papers by Dr. Tom G. Palmer, Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History and Practice, published by the Cato Institute. Civilization means understanding and endorsing certain values and principles, which in turn depends on an open debate of ideas. This collection of essays provides a unique and insightful perspective on classical liberalism. Palmer's arguments are powerful and combine the abstract with the tangible in unusually well written and thoroughly researched essays. They are a philosophical feast, touching on a board range of topics. It is an honest and outspoken voice. It is entertaining and enlightening. The essays are a sweeping blow to those who advocate collectivism and they reinforce the stand of those of us who believe that a free society is a much better place to live for all persons of good will.

Alberto Benegas-Lynch, Jr.

National Academy of Sciences

Buenos Aires , Argentina
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One Of The Best Analyses of Freedom 3. September 2009
Von Alexander McCobin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Dr. Palmer's book, Realizing Freedom, is sure to become a must-read for all students of liberty, no matter their age. It accomplishes two distinct and particularly meaningful tasks in its exploration of the topic of freedom that fit its incredibly apt title. On the one hand, Palmer helps the reader realize the meaning of freedom by offering some of the most coherent and logical defenses of liberty against common misunderstandings and inaccurate arguments. On the other hand, Palmer lays out a sound strategy for realizing freedom in our life-time, not merely as an intellectual construct for academics to argue over, but as a value that guides policy decisions and right of people everywhere to enjoy.

The first task of explaining the meaning of freedom and defending it from common criticisms, is what most people will take away from the book and is one of its very clear purposes. Palmer clearly lays out just what the concept of freedom entails in all of its aspects from the structure of the book, anticipating many questions that readers would normally have. What's more, Palmer takes on some of the most difficult problems facing the philosophy of freedom and answers them head on from everything such as the Marxist conception of class conflict and the dominance of Rawlsian political theory today.

The second accomplishment of the book may be an indirect effort on Palmer's part, or at least something that seems to be pushed toward the end, but Palmer offers the reader a clear conception of how to realize freedom in our lifetime. Instead of relegating his work to the intellectual debates of what liberty would be in a hypothetical world, he presents freedom as something that we should and could see if properly defended and promoted in the real world. As Palmer writes in his introduction, he desires "to make a difference for freedom, for justice, for the rule of law, and for peace and toleration." The very tone of this book and the suggestions for policy improvements throughout make his dedication to realizing freedom clear and his strategy for doing so even clearer. What he offers as a strategy is perhaps the most appropriate: seeking to persuade others to the superiority of freedom over authoritarianism and working with others rather than intentionally alienating them.

In addressing both issues, Palmer has provided an ideal book for readers of any level of interest in the topic of freedom. Whether you are just beginning to intellectually explore the concept of liberty or if you are well-versed in classical liberalism, this book will provide you with an engaging and thought-provoking read.
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Exactly what is a Libertarian? 17. Dezember 2012
Von John Ames - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Liberty is hard to describe to modern Americans. Tom Palmer does it well. I would give his book five stars for excellent content, but subtract one for its being a collection of previous essays, dating from the present back to 1981. They’re all good, but the later ones are better (he’s thirty years older), and there is necessarily some repetition.

Liberty is a difficult subject these days because a majority of Americans seem to confuse it with either personal license or laissez faire economics. The Libertarian political party is certainly related to liberty, but is not the same thing. Finally, the term liberal, which originally denoted a resistance to special legal privilege, has come to be associated with an element of the Democratic Party that called itself Progressive when it originated in the Republican Party with Teddy Roosevelt, and which might now more accurately be described as communitarian. (We are all in this together. We must decide by majority vote how to live, with government as the coercive mechanism) Those of us who consider ourselves friends of liberty are reduced to calling ourselves Classical Liberals if we don’t wish to identify with all the aspects of the Libertarian, or any other, Party.

The first point to make is that liberty is not based on imagined isolated individuals. Its modern version began in the nascent free cities of Medieval Europe where the merchants and artisans created well documented (not merely hypothetical) social contracts regulating their relationships with each other and with their rulers, usually kings. Their, and our, liberty is an intensely social relationship of mutual tolerance and respect. It is the “mutual enjoyment of equal freedom” dependent on a respect for strong law to prevent violence of one upon another. It is just as social as any communitarian scheme, but without the coercion. It may be even more social because it depends on peaceful trading.

Much of the theory of liberty deals with trade in its most general sense. For example, some modern economic theories, from Marxism to labor unions, posit that any good, be it a manufactured product or labor, has an intrinsic value. Libertarian theory, however, recognizes that trading goods of fixed value makes no sense because if two people trade items of truly equal value, nothing has been gained. In reality, value is situationally dependent. I give you something that you value more than I do, and you give me something that I value more than you do. There is a net gain in value – both goods at the end are worth more than before. This, of course, requires that both parties know what the goods are, and leads to a justification for common standards and rules, which may or may not be most effectively managed by a government, but which in any case imply strong social cohesion or at least trust and some form of enforcement. In short, the object of rules is peaceful cooperation.

Palmer touches only briefly and indirectly on current politics. Rather, he provides a solid philosophical, moral, and practical foundation for judging current affairs with several essays on the philosophical basis for, and careful definition of, liberty, including its history. He points out that liberty is different from democracy. The former is based on clear philosophical principles, while the latter can degrade to a simple exercise of majoritarian power.

Liberty requires law, which is quite different from what is now called regulation, and which is really management or intervention. Law, or proper regulation, fosters regularity of trade and other relationships. Intervention is commonly for the purpose of achieving some unrelated object that may be transient in nature and subject to political whim. An example of the need for law is that in many poor countries land tenure is extremely complex and subject to arbitrary decisions by the powerful, thereby severely restricting economic development. As an aside, Palmer notes that all rich countries started out poor, and became rich by virtue of their more-or-less libertarian governance, not always by means of natural resources or conquest, especially recently.

One of the great values of Palmer’s book is that nothing is left to inference or unstated assumption. Every idea is meticulously developed from clear principles, sometimes to greater depth than the casual reader might wish, but always well referenced. For example, the common good or general welfare is often cited to justify various schemes of wealth redistribution. Palmer makes clear that these terms historically mean a good that is common to all, or welfare that is general, not particular to an individual. “The common good is a system of justice that allows all to live in together in harmony and peace”, not “a good for some of us at the expense of others of us.”

There are two whole chapters debunking a couple dozen myths about individualism and markets. One example will suffice. We often hear from Progressives that “markets worked fine when society was simpler, but the modern complex world needs government direction.” The opposite is actually true. In a simple agrarian or tribal society where nothing changed much, fixed prices and relationships might have worked, but the modern world is plainly too complex for any mind or group of minds to master the rapid changes in technology or human desires and forms of interaction nearly as well as the market, in which prices produce information about the value of goods that is otherwise unavailable. The lack of prices is the downfall of managed economies.

Readers predisposed to a libertarian bent will find a scholarly foundation for their perhaps intuitive preferences. Progressives and communitarians will be exposed to the real arguments for true libertarianism. If they still don’t like it, they will at least have real targets rather than straw men to attack, which is harder but more productive of truth. They may even develop new insights or understanding.

There is an excellent annotated bibliography, which could almost stand by itself as a history of political thought.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A brilliant and timely argument for freedom 15. Dezember 2009
Von Alex Korbel - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice will be an outstanding addition to every scholar of liberty's list of classical texts. The book gives a deep picture of what freedom means, and shows how libertarian radical ideas are in many ways far more engaged, functional, and reasonable in their approach to today's issues than conventional wisdom suggests.

Palmer guides readers through the different intellectual and practical challenges libertarians have to face today. This unique text gives a solid understanding of the nature of freedom, justice, and the morality of markets. It also explores the long tradition of classical liberalism and how it relates to struggles for liberty today. The third section of the book moves the focus on current events and concerns. For example, the chapter entitled "Madison and Multiculturalism" offers a detailed overview of American multiculturalism, but it's not limited to the US. Palmer's logical and careful analysis will be very useful to any freedom advocate confronted by the advocates of collective rights in her own country. The author also dissects the arguments of many different political theorists, such as John Rawls, G.A. Cohen, Stephen Holmes, Cass R. Sunstein, Attracta Ingram, and John C. Calhoun and provides critical guides to important works. One of the last chapters, called "The Literature of Liberty", offers a superb bibliography for those who wish to explore further both libertarian and anti-libertarian ideas.

Some thoughts I found very interesting that recurred through the book:
- The importance of the rule of law as a necessary basis for any sustainable political and economic development;
- The necessity to search through every society's historical heritage and cultural environment in order to discover their indigenous narratives of liberty;
- The essential role of ideas in setting-up the best intellectual matrix for the libertarian movement and to keep collectivism in all its forms at bay;
- A call for vigorous but careful advocacy and political action to advance the agenda of liberty.

Palmer's exposition of ideas is well-researched, cleverly presented, unpretentious, and well balanced. His prose is amazing, articulate, concise, and humorous. For example, the chapter "Twenty Myths about Markets" is a model of a straightforward and persuasive writing. The book doesn't even read like a collection of essays, as it gives the reader a comprehensive outlook into libertarianism from a 21st century point of view.

Long after you have read Realizing Freedom, you will still find yourself dipping into the book now and again as a refresher. The reflection and advocacy are impressive and this high-quality, hard cover edition does it justice. I have no question that it will be widely influential.

All in all, it's a must read.
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