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Jun 27, 2009 5:19 pm

Some Advice Needed

L&P readers,

Suppose you had some high schoolers who were self-proclaimed Republicans. What would you give them to read to introduce them to libertarianism that would emphasize its differences from conservatism? (And no, Hayek's "Why I'm Not a Conservative," though wonderful, is not appropriate.)

Suggestions happily received in the comments or by email.

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Steven Horwitz - 6/28/2009

I think it's located too much in the context of his writing CofL and particular debates/issues at the time, including a very British understanding of conservatism that's different from how American high schoolers might understand it.

Don't get me wrong - I love that essay. I just think the intellectual context requires too much introduction for high schoolers to get a lot out of it.

Mill's *On Liberty* is more timeless, though harder to read I think.

Jeff Riggenbach - 6/28/2009

"Hayek's 'Why I'm Not a Conservative,' though wonderful, is not appropriate."

Why not? (Just curious.)


Jonathan Dresner - 6/27/2009

The only identifiably libertarian thing I recall reading in high school was L. Neil Smith's Probability Broach. But then, I'm not a libertarian, so clearly it didn't have the desired effect. You might get into a little trouble with the whole "South won" thing, but it does raise a whole host of other typical issues in a fashion that HS students would find quite provocative.

I don't know why excerpts from Adam Smith and JS Mills wouldn't get the discussion started, though.

Less Antman - 6/27/2009

To lure a young Republican I'd go with David Friedman's THE MACHINERY OF FREEDOM. Short, thought provoking chapters that extend laissez fair arguments into areas where conservatives fear to tread.

Mike - 6/27/2009

When I was in high school, a teacher gave me Rand's Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal and Nock's Our Enemy the State. Those along with Rothbard's For a New Liberty, really impressed me. Of course, each of those works carries some baggage that a large part of the libertarian world would take serious issue with.

I can't really think of a good intro text that wouldn't contain anything too controversial among libertarians.

Maybe Read's Anything That's Peaceful.

Neal W. - 6/27/2009

Are these kids exceptional bright (valedictorian types), or average high schoolers?

If the latter, I would suggest John Stossels "Give Me a Break" or Robert Murphey's "Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism" for economics, and Napolitano's "A Nation of Sleep" for civil liberties. On foreign policy I'm not too sure.

Aeon J. Skoble - 6/27/2009

Mill, On Liberty
Bastiat, The Law
I'll see if I can think of some others.