As promised, here is the English review I wrote for Tom G. Palmer’s new book.
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.