Recensione di Roy A. Childs, Jr., Dicembre 1989
This book was first published in 1970, and it became the storm center of controversy in Objectivist and Libertarian circles. Today, it has reached the status of an underground "classic." The Market for Liberty (friends call it TMFL) was written by a husband and wife team who had been devoted followers of Ayn Rand, but differed with her philosophy on one crucial point: they rejected the concept of limited government and defended the ideal of society without the state. The term "anarchism" is never mentioned, because the Tannehills didn't consider themselves anarchists, let alone advocates of what Rand termed "competing governments." Nevertheless, the debate over limited government vs. anarchism was on. (I am not an anarchist, but my 1969 "Open Letter to Ayn Rand" was [reprinted in Liberty Against Power], and it helped stir up debate, too.)
That aside, I recommend this book as a very challenging one. It was in fact the first book-length treatment of social and political philosophy to attempt to build on Ayn Rand's words and to extend her argument beyond the points at which she had left them. Thus you can disagree totally with the book's conclusions and still find it full of insights and new ideas.
The "meat" of the book is Part Two, "A Laissez Faire Society," and it is here that the Tannehills shine. In ten scintillating chapters they take up one major problem after another: the nature of a free society--"Property, The Great Problem Solver"--"Arbitration of Disputes"--"Protection of Life and Property"--"Dealing With Coercion"--"Rectification of Injustice"--"Warring Defense Agencies and Organized Crime"--"Legislation and Objective Law"--"Foreign Aggression"--and "The Abolition of War."
Or, put another way, building on Ayn Rand's philosophy, the Tannehills actually attempted to solve most of the nagging, persistent questions of social and political philosophy. Call it chutzpa, perhaps, but the solutions they offer to many such problems are often brilliant, highly original, and of enduring relevance.
The paradoxical thing is that although the whole point of the book is to argue that government is unnecessary, there is absolutely no reason why an advocate of limited government could not profit from it in any case. After all, most of the problems they address will still be problems under a minimal state.
The Market for Liberty has spirit and integrity, a rare commodity these days, and the book is so chock full of good ideas that it will stimulate and challenge your thinking on a whole range of issues--whether you want it to or not.
"The fundamental question of politics has always been whether there should be politics. Morris and Linda Tannehill, in this book, which has become something of a classic even while being (until now) out of print, answer that politics is not necessary, that the ancient and ongoing contrivance of the marketplace can be substituted for it with ennobling results."
"What Rand's books did for philosophy, what Mises's did for economics, this book does for politics and more. In the past most political writing has dealt with government as a noble and ennobling, if somewhat flawed, institution that should be nurtured and cherished. Morris and Linda Tannehill point their fingers at government per se as the problem. They demonstrate that it is the institution itself, not just a few bad men who occasionally take its reins, or a few mistaken laws which alter its direction, which needs to be done away with. The Market for Liberty explains that government is not what keeps human beings from reverting to the jungle, as most think, but is rather what keeps them from advancing to the stars.
"If you are interested in ideas or, indeed, in life itself, this book has the potential to more than just shock you. It has the power to change the way you view the world, to change your ideas, and then, perhaps, to change the world itself."
--from the introduction by Doug Casey
Part I: The Great Conflict
1. If We Don't Know Where We're Going
2. Man and Society
3. The Self-Regulating Market
4. Government: An Unnecessary Evil
Part II: A Laissez-Faire Society
5. A Free and Healthy Economy
6. Property: The Great Problem Solver
7. Arbitration of Disputes
8. Protection of Life and Property
9. Dealing With Coercion
10. Rectification of Injustice
11. Warring Defense Agencies and Organized Crime
12. Legislation and Objective Law
13. Foreign Aggression
14. The Abolition of War
Part III: How Do We Get There?
15. From Government to Laissez Faire
16. The Force Which Shapes the World