What It Means to Be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation

Murray, Charles

Published by Broadway, 1996
ISBN 10: 0553069284 / ISBN 13: 9780553069280
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Synopsis: "In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the American Founders created a society based on the belief that human happiness is intimately connected with personal freedom and responsibility. A few people, of whom I am one, think that the Founders' insights are as true today as they were two centuries ago. We believe that human happiness requires freedom, and freedom requires limited government. Limited government means a very small one, shorn of almost all of the apparatus we have come to take for granted during the last sixty years.

Most people are baffled by such views. Don't we realize that this is post-industrial America, not Jefferson's agrarian society? This book tries to explain how we can believe the less government, the better. It contains no footnotes. It has no tables and but a single graph. My purpose is to explain a way of looking at the world." --Charles Murray, from the Introduction

The twin pillars of the nation created by America's Founders were strict limits on the power of central government and strict protections of individual rights. Now, at the close of the twentieth century, that state is gone--and Charles Murray wants to bring it back. In What It Means to Be a Libertarian, he offers a radical blueprint for overhauling our dysfunctional government and replacing it with a system that fosters human happiness because it safeguards human freedom.

Most Americans, Murray argues, have reluctantly come to accept that a sprawling, costly, and intrusive government is an inevitable part of modern life. What It Means to Be a Libertarian encourages each of us to liberate ourselves from ingrained ideas of what government is and consider instead what it ought to be. Imagine, for example, a federal government that is not just smaller, but small, with an executive branch reduced to the White House and trimmed-down departments of state, defense, justice, and environmental protection. Imagine a federal code stripped of all but a handful of regulations and a Congress so limited in power that it spends only a few months of each year in session. Imagine a society in which the government's role is once again to prevent people from initiating the use of force, leaving them otherwise free, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, "to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement."

In this very personal book, Charles Murray paints a vivid portrait of life in a genuinely free society. He explains why limited government would lead to greater individual fulfillment, more vital communities, and a richer culture. He shows why such a society would have stronger families, fewer poor people, and would care for the less fortunate far better than does the society we havenow.

Writing in the tradition of the Revolutionary pamphleteers, Charles Murray has crafted a brilliant treatise that presents a clear, workable alternative to our
current government. Without footnotes, in plain language, What It Means to Be a Libertarian returns to the truths our Founders held to be self-evident
and applies them, justly and compassionately, to this country's most urgent social and political problems.

From the Publisher:

Introduction

In the last quarter of the eighteenth century the American Founders created asociety based on the belief that human happiness is intimately connected withpersonal freedom and responsibility. The twin pillars of the system theycreated were limits on the power of the central government and protection ofindividual rights.

A few people, of whom I am one, think that the Founders' insights are as truetoday as they were two centuries ago. We believe that human happiness requiresfreedom and that freedom requires limited government. Limited government meansa very small one, shorn of almost all the apparatus we have come to take forgranted during the last sixty years.

Most people are baffled by such a view. Don't we realize that this ispostindustrial America, not Jefferson's agrarian society? Don't we realize thatwithout big government millions of the elderly would be destitute, corporationswould destroy the environment, and employers would be free once more to exploittheir workers? Where do we suppose blacks would be if it weren't for thegovernment? Women? Haven't we noticed that America has huge social problemsthat aren't going to be dealt with unless the government does something aboutthem?

This book tries to explain how we can believe that the less government, thebetter. Why a society run on the principles of limited government would advancehuman happiness. How such a society would lead to greater individualfulfillment, more vital communities, a richer culture. Why such a society wouldcontain fewer poor people, fewer neglected children, fewer criminals. How sucha society would not abandon the less fortunate but would care for them betterthan does the society we have now.

Many books address the historical, economic, sociological, philosophical, andconstitutional issues raised is pages. A bibliographic essay at the end of thebook points you to some of the basic sources, but the book you are about toread contains no footnotes. It has no tables and but a single graph. My purposeis not to provide proofs but to explain a way of looking at the world.

Copyright ©1997 by Charles Murray.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Title: What It Means to Be a Libertarian: A ...
Publisher: Broadway
Publication Date: 1996
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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