January 11th, 2003


Review of Escape from Leviathan: Liberty, Welfare and Anarchy Reconciled

On my to read list...


Libertarianism by Conjecture and Refutation

by Norman Berry

From Humane Studies Review Vol. 13, No. 2

Escape from Leviathan: Liberty, Welfare and Anarchy Reconciled
J. C. Lester
London: Macmillan, 2000

(buy this book)

J. C. Lester has written an outstanding book. It fulfills all the criteria for that accolade. It is the author’s first book yet he tackles the subject with the consummate skill of an expert in the field. He is up to date with all the relevant literature, that which is sympathetic to his intellectual cause as well as the arguments of its opponents. He is familiar with all of the philosophical issues and manages to breathe some new life into matters that have been discussed ad nauseum by libertarians over the years. While not always crystal clear in his exposition (indeed, this book is not to be recommended to beginners), Lester writes generally in a lively and provocative style which is sure to attract freedom-loving scholars. Furthermore, he is not afraid to take on some well-known shibboleths of contemporary political philosophy and subject them to full libertarian rigor; his critique of democracy was a heady, almost intoxicating, refutation of the most emotive (and apparently uncriticizable) concept in the political lexicon. As he points out, "Democracy is the enemy of liberty and welfare." [1] Of course, most critics of democracy are automatically dismissed as fascists, but that is a most implausible, indeed libelous, charge to level at one who is so committed a believer in freedom.

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