Category Archives: History

Jeff Riggenbach’s Libertarian Tradition

Libertarian-tradition-creased-cover

Today, I finally get to reveal to you something I’ve been talking about in private meetings and then working on in secret solitude this year.

It’s Jeff Riggenbach’s glorious new ebook, The Libertarian Tradition.

Liberty.me members get it free. Everyone else can buy it on Amazon.com for $8.99.

Riggenbach, widely known as the voice of liberty, has been reading, researching and writing about the history of libertarianism for decades.

The Libertarian Tradition represents the culmination of this work — more than 90 essays by Riggenbach, each focusing on some intriguing person or persons who contributed in their own way to the idea that we humans should live peaceful and free with each other.

Every chapter sparkles with Riggenbach’s erudition, his wry humor, and his gift for storytelling.

He takes you from the rise of the libertarian idea in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through innovative and playful adaptations by outsiders and novelists in the twentieth century, and right into the current debates in the dawning of the twenty-first.

Get your copy now and savor a piece of the libertarian tradition.

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Class War in the Time of Robin Hood

RobinHoodCroppedOur founder, BK Marcus, has a new article up in the Freeman today, presenting a careful libertarian rethinking of “that paragon of armed social justice, that singular personification of class conflict: Robin Hood.”

BK explains,

As advocates of such voluntary exchange, we too often resist Robin Hood’s rob-from-the-rich morality, as we resist any talk of fundamental conflicts of interest between different classes. But the targets of Robin Hood and his merry men—like the targets of the Peasants’ Revolt—were rich from plunder, not production.

Like the radical liberals of the nineteenth century, the “peasant” rebels of the 1300s—when Robin Hood’s exploits fired the imagination of an oppressed people—recognized that their enemies were the tax collectors, legislators, and all other members of the political class.

Read the Freeman and enjoy.

PS: Which one is more libertarian — the Russell Crowe or the Kevin Costner Robin Hood? Comment below to take a side.

 

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Proud Little Englander

(Image from Shutterstock)

(Image from Shutterstock)

Ever wonder what a “Little Englander” is? See BK Marcus’s article on how “words from Victorian England continue to haunt advocates of freedom and peace” in today’s Freeman.

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A Note from a Freeman Reader

One very pleasant aspect of publishing in the Freeman is that I get to see the online article first, then a couple of months later I receive the print magazine (seeing my stuff in print still has a special appeal, much as I advocate digital), and then a few weeks later I sometimes get the more thoughtful notes that come from print readers:

Subject: Black Death and Taxes

Dear Mr. Marcus:

I have been reading The Freeman for fifty years or more now, and even though it is reaching the point that nearly everything in it is something I have heard before, every once in a while it supplies me with a new insight or piece of enlightening information. That was the case with your article in the most recent issue. When I read it I immediately rushed across the anteroom in the social science complex here at MSU-Northern to see what my colleague, a historian of libertarian inclination thought, and he confirmed everything you said.

Thanks.

James R. Edwards, Ph.D. (Economics)
Montana State University-Northern

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TV’s Third Golden Age

FreemanHouseOfCards4IOOur own BK Marcus is in the Freeman again today, with a post on the latest wave of great TV shows.

As he explains,

TV dramas now are cinematic in their production values, carefully edited, and serial in their narrative structure. In the first golden age, mistakes by the actors and mishaps in staging went out live to the TV audience—and the best remembered dramas were complete, single-episode stories, written and directed as stage plays for the camera.

Perhaps most significantly, the shows that stand out today—Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Breaking Bad, and Spacey’s own House of Cards—are produced for cable networks, premium channels, and private subscription services, where advertising is minimal or altogether absent.

In contrast, the era that first became known as the Golden Age of Television was arguably pure advertising: sponsors not only attached their names to the TV shows they sponsored—Kraft Television Theater, Goodyear TV Playhouse, The US Steel Hour—they developed shows, produced them, and paid the networks to put them on the air.

What really makes great TV? Read BK’s complete article to find out.

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Hedwig Kiesler (Hedy Lamarr), Ekstase (1933

Hedwig Kiesler (Hedy Lamarr), Ekstase (1933

Over at the Foundation for Economic Education, BK Marcus has a neat piece up about a beautiful actress, an inventor of torpedo technology, and a misguided idealist — and they’re all the same person: Hedy Lamarr.

His article begins

Hedy stands naked in a field. She looks off-camera in dismay as her horse gallops away with the clothes she had draped over its back so she could take a dip in a woodland pond.

She is not called Lamarr yet. That name will come later, in Hollywood. For now she is still Hedwig Kiesler, a Viennese teenager in Prague, playing her first starring role in a feature film, Ekstase (“Ecstasy,” 1933). The controversial Czechoslovakian film will become famous for Hedy’s nude scenes and its sex scenes (which show only her face, in close-up, in the throes of passion).

The film will give Hedy her first taste of fame. She will be known as the Ecstasy girl. An Austrian director will tell the press, “Hedy Kiesler is the most beautiful girl in the world.” Later, MGM movie mogul Louis B. Mayer will repeat the claim, using the name he insisted she change to: Hedy Lamarr.

But while the world of her time will remember her for her photogenic beauty, history will remember her as the inventor of frequency hopping, the foundational technology of today’s mobile phones and wireless Internet.

How a Hollywood starlet invented the means of secure wireless data transfer is fascinating, and there are thorough accounts of the story in recent books and television shows. What is less thoroughly addressed is why an invention from World War II didn’t see widespread use until the turn of the century.

Read the full story at FEE.org.

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Worshipping the Wrong Goddess

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BK Marcus writes in the Freeman on the statue that inspired the protests in Tiananmen Square. She looked like the Statue of Liberty, but the protestors called her the Goddess of Democracy …

To American eyes, she looked like a Chinese version of the Statue of Liberty, her torch of freedom held aloft over Tiananmen’s huddled masses. The art students who had quickly assembled the foam statue over a bamboo scaffolding had deliberately avoided creating something that seemed “too openly pro-American”—even basing the style on the Cold War art of the Soviet socialist realists—but even with her Chinese features and a two-handed grip on the torch, the comparison with Lady Liberty was unavoidable.

But while the statue in New York Harbor represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, the protestors in Tiananmen Square were worshipping a different deity. They called their statue the Goddess of Democracy.

The tanks rolled in and crushed the goddess beneath their treads, but her symbolic power remains, and her likeness now appears in the form of commemorative statues throughout the world.

The authoritarian state may have won the battle, but the war for freedom lasts longer than our history textbooks would have us believe.

To read more about liberty, democracy, and the mismatch between them, see the complete article over at FEE.org.

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