Overall, I find it to be a very good book - easy to read, simple, and to the point. It probably is too basic for most well-versed libertarians (and political aficionados in general) . There are eighteen chapters, and in each one, the author explains the libertarian reasoning for why we believe in handling the topic of that chapter (e.g. education) in a certain way. Chapters one through six are more introductory in nature because, ya know, when trying to explain to some people for the first time what exactly libertarianism is, they sometimes are like, "That sounds like feudalism."
|Or their reaction is similar to this.|
Face it, libertarianism is kind of hard to explain without sounding like a nut - most people have been raised to believe that government is virtuous, efficient, and all-powerful. Any problems? Then bring it up to the government! They can fix anything! Aw hell, if that was the case, I would not be a libertarian. Just look around you, people believe only government can "end" poverty or do deep-space exploration. For the less naive, they might think government does a better job than the private sector. The rest of the chapters actually cover different topics: the problem, (if applicable) what may have caused it, and a libertarian solution. Chapter eighteen is an exception, and instead, answers different problems from a conservative, liberal, and libertarian point of view.
|Look how shiny AND AMERICAN this is!|
First off, I will get the bad things I have to say about this book off my chest...Luckily, there is only one, and it is not even that bad. Some of the things Bergland claims are a bit sketchy, but I am pretty sure (and hope) they are mentioned in more detail in his "Suggested Reading" section in the back.
The biggest revelation I got from reading this was actually from nearly the very beginning of the book.
"People frequently say, "There ought to be a law," or "The government ought to take action." What they are really saying is that legislators should make certain rules, attach penalties to them, and send out men with guns to enforce those rules. They are also saying that people who disagree with their proposed rules should be punished - by fines, jail time, or death - if they violate them. People rarely talk about laws in such grim, stark terms. But behind, every law laws the treat of force. That's what makes it a law (Bergland, 19)."
That really got to me. Who, in passing, ever thinks of laws in that way? I certainly never thought that consciously about it before. Every law your government passes is a threat against you. Now that doesn't sound so cheerful. I think writing that down just ruined my entire day. Thanks a lot, reader. It only makes sense to blame you because if it weren't for you, I wouldn't even have an incentive to create a blog.
If you read this book, you will discover that Bergland seems to have a favorite catchphrase: "Utopia is not an option." He explains certain fallacies that anti-libertarians commit, one of them being the Utopian Fallacy - no matter what form of government we are under or which party is in control, we are never going to experience a perfect world. Meaning that if someone tries to disprove your political beliefs by saying, "But that means there will still be people who are struggling to afford food!", then that's not a very good way of invalidating whatever you just said.
Do y'all know of any other good introductory libertarian books?