PREFACE TO THE FIFTH EDITION
The first edition of Libertarianism In One Lesson was written in 1984 during my Libertarian Party presidential campaign. I wanted it to serve as an unintimidating first look into that uniquely American philosophy of freedom, which has come to be known as libertarianism, and to acquaint readers with the Libertarian Party. I hoped the appeal and usefulness of the book would transcend the 1984 elections and electoral politics in general. It appears my hopes were not entirely unrealistic.
The first and second editions were inexpensively printed in a magazine style format to reach as many readers as possible during the campaign. Thereafter, many readers urged me to publish it in a more standard “book” format, which is how it appeared in the third and fourth editions. From the first through fourth editions, the substantive content of the book changed very little. We did provide more additional reading selections to satisfy scholarly readers and an appendix of libertarian oriented organizations to assist readers who sought more involvement in libertarian movement activities. Those items have been retained and updated in this current edition.
During 1988, I was contacted by an underground publisher in Poland who wished to translate the book into Polish and publish it there. It pleased me greatly to give my permission for such an endeavor. The project was a high risk venture for the publisher as the publication of such a radically pro-freedom book in communist Poland was clearly treasonous at the time. In spite of such problems, the project was a success and the book was distributed in Poland. I like to think it played some role in the revolutionary events of 1989.
The world has changed dramatically since 1988. During 1989 and 1990, communist governments were thrown out and socialist economies collapsed across the world. The Cold War ended. Privatization and free market reforms are on the rise. Even in the erstwhile “evil empire”, the Soviet Union, the Supreme Soviet is adopting a program to convert from state ownership and central planning to a market economy.
As Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev recently stated:
“Life itself has brought us to the transition to the market. We must give back to people their natural sense of being their own master. And only a normal economy, the market, can do that.”
In addition, democratic elections have installed popular governments, ending decades of despotism in many countries. It is particularly gratifying that many of these changes have taken directions advocated in earlier editions of this book. Due to these profound changes in our world, this fifth edition is also modified to take account of them.
All of the news is not good. For instance, the “war on drugs” hysteria has intensified, and our civil liberties are suffering because of it. The U.S. government refuses to end its international military meddling, currently trooping off to Saudi Arabia to protect foreign oil suppliers from their Arab neighbors, risking the lives of young American men and women and wasting American tax dollars. But, libertarian approaches to even these issues are receiving more attention and may carry the day eventually.
To the reader making an initial foray into libertarian political philosophy, I say welcome. This book is a good start on the fundamentals and some of their applications. But libertarianism is dynamic, changing, evolving, as anything in the marketplace of ideas must necessarily be. My sincere hope is that you will question every idea presented here, and every idea you have learned about political philosophy elsewhere, and thus be stimulated to investigate further.
Because I am a libertarian, my confident view is that the more free and open inquiry there is into these issues, the closer we will come to that state of affairs in which both you and I will be respected and appreciated as the unique and competent individuals we are.
Costa Mesa, California
Libertarianism In One Lesson .pdf file