The Poverty of Liberalism
by Robert Paul Wolff

A philosophical attack on liberalism as defined by John Stuart Mill in "On Liberty" and in Principles of Political Economy. Each of the five chapters is an essay, but they all hang together. I like his style and would be pleased if I could write the same way. The book has many libertarian ideas, but is marred by Wolff's sympathy for socialism. He believes that once something is brought under government control (which he regards as rational planning), it can no longer revert to the status of things that are under private (non-rational) control. The final chapter is an elaborate attempt to prove that people can motivated by a desire to have a relationship with other people. I don't know anyone who denies this, but Wolff seems to think he is performing a service here by proving the obvious. The problem is that he leaps to the conclusion that social decisions are possible through democratic free speech.

Year Read: 1983


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