For readers who don’t know much about the libertarian philosophy and who want an easy-to-read reference guide, this is as snappy an introduction as any. For libertarians who want a quick final word on any one of nearly one hundred topics, this is a handy if not terribly profound guide. The publisher bills this as an irreverent work, but the author’s efforts at humor leave one feeling somewhat irritated. Libertarians have something to say, but the author misses the opportunity to make a serious statement about a point of view that has gained some currency in recent years.
It is a standard libertarian statement. Freedom is the supreme value, and government the very antithesis of freedom and therefore the enemy of mankind. The only “natural” right is the right to person and property and not the “equal right of the envious to use government...for the mutual plunder of the property of others.” Our present ills could be cured if and only if the burden of government, which is aided and abetted by envy, were removed so that humankind could adhere to “the natural laws of economics,” that is, a competitive free market.
There is plenty here on topics from envy to bureaucracy and from the income tax to the Laffer curve. There are some harsh words for democracy, but don’t look for entries under “community” or “brotherhood.” For all their talk of freedom, the libertarian outlook found here has a darker side. Libertarianism embodies the harsh theories of Gustave Le Bon and Ortega y Gasset in its view of “the crowd.” “The government of crowds” is the ultimate form of democracy and the ultimate enemy of freedom. When John Galt talks about the low level of crowd intellect and morality, it is clear that ugly emotions are not the exclusive province of the envious have-nots: libertarianism, it seems, is just another name for elitism, arrogance, and snobbery.
Still, it is a book to start one arguing about basic beliefs.