Free Society

The Origins and Intentions of Copyright

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In a victory for media Goliaths, the Supreme Court recently ruled that TV-streaming service Aereo “perform ... copyrighted works publicly” and therefore violated copyright law. The ghost of Grokster haunts us. Napster rolls in its grave. Copyright’s muscular hands have once again strangled innovation. What is the purpose of copyright law? Conventional wisdom asserts that it protects the rights of ... [click for more]

“Both Together, They Made a Very Good Book”

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The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Left and Right by Yuval Levin (Basic Books 2014), 235 pages. Yuval Levin’s well-written Great Debate is full of useful material, understandable explanation, and interesting reflections. It flows along smoothly and even entertainingly, unless that is a cuss word in serious circles. Levin goes through the Burke-Paine controversy ... [click for more]

Jane Cobden: Carrying On Her Father’s Good Work

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Among libertarians and classical liberals, the name Richard Cobden (1804–1865) evokes admiration and applause. His activities — and successes — on behalf of freedom, free markets, and government retrenchment are legendary. Most famously, he co-founded — with John Bright — the Anti–Corn Law League, which successfully campaigned for repeal of the import tariffs on grain. Those trade restrictions had ... [click for more]

Reining In Out-of-Control Government

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The Classical Liberal Constitution by Richard A. Epstein (Harvard University Press 2014), 701 pages. In Book II of his Two Treatises of Government, John Locke says “that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” A towering figure in the Enlightenment, Locke is often called the father of classical ... [click for more]

Imaging Patterns

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The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory by Jesse Walker (Harper 2013), 448 pages. What is the substance of American paranoia? From where does it emanate, and why is its study important? These are some of the questions that, without preaching or bludgeoning us with elitist pretensions, Jesse Walker, books editor at Reason magazine, addresses in The United ... [click for more]

Sunday Shopping

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Just before Christmas, the country of Hungary joined other European countries such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in banning Sunday shopping. Although the Hungarian Parliament passed the bill on December 16, it isn’t scheduled to take effect until March 15 of this year. The legislation, which was supported by the prime minister but opposed by the economy minister, ... [click for more]

American’s Fading Love of Freedom

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Tea Party protesters, some Republicans, and many libertarians perceive the federal government as a vast engine of oppression. But are anti-Obama activists mistaken in presuming that most Americans still care about freedom? A Gallup poll released in July asked a thousand Americans, “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what to do with your life?” Admittedly, only ... [click for more]

TGIF: The Open Society and Its Worst Enemies

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Last week’s bloody events in Paris demonstrate yet again that a noninterventionist foreign policy, far from being a luxury, is an urgent necessity -- literally a matter of life and death. A government that repeatedly wages wars of aggression — the most extreme form of extremism — endangers the society it ostensibly protects by gratuitously making enemies, some of whom will seek revenge against ... [click for more]

Lessons for Winning Liberty in a World of Statism

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Friends of freedom often become despondent when it seems that every day brings another growth and intrusion of government over people’s lives. But there is no reason to be disheartened, because there are lessons for winning liberty – from the opponents of freedom. Beginning in the last decades of the nineteenth century, through most of the twentieth century and into ... [click for more]

The Unpredictable Future and Winning Liberty

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As a new year begins, it is easy to consider that the prospects for freedom in America and in many other parts of the world to seem dim. After all, government continues to grow bigger and more intrusive, along with tax burdens that siphon off vast amounts of private wealth. Extrapolating these trends out for the foreseeable future, it would ... [click for more]

State Heretics and State Infidels

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The term statolatry refers to worshiping the state as the source of goodness to which all else should be subordinated. In statolatry, instead of having a separation of church and state, the state replaces the church and becomes its own religion. In his book Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, Ludwig von Mises ... [click for more]
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