James Buchanan is not “Mr. Libertarian”

There has been a lot of fuss, in libertarian and conservative circles, about Nancy MacLean’s new book Democracy in Chains. I have not yet read it, but, based on this plethora of reviews it has so far garnered, I discern that one of its main “insights” is that James Buchanan in particular, and his (and Gordon Tullock’s!) Public Choice School in general, are leaders of the libertarian movement; among its very founders. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this book amply demonstrates:

DiLorenzo, Thomas J. and Walter E. Block. 2016. An Austro-Libertarian Critique of Public Choice; Addleton Academic Publishers; www.addletonacademicpublishers.com; 30-18 50th Street, Woodside, New York, 11377; editors@addletonacademicpublishers.com; ISBN 978-1-942585-26-8, eISBN 978-1-942585-27-5

Instead, Tom and I criticize both Buchanan and Public Choice on Austrian and libertarian grounds. Virtually all the chapters were written by my co author and me. I don’t know if Tom agrees with me on this or not, but, I regard the single chapter in that book not written by either of us as the best one in it. It is this, which we reprinted in this book of ours:

Rothbard, Murray. 1997. “Buchanan and Tullock’s ‘The Calculus of Consent,” The Logic of Action II, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp. 269-274

I know this is shameless self-promotion, but, if you want a compelling antidote to the view that Buchanan was a leading libertarian, read this book.

As it happens, I am a fan of Democracy in Chains. I have to concede, she does spell the word “libertarian” correctly (at least based on the reviews of it I have seen). She doesn’t spell it “libertoonian,” nor confuse us with librarians nor libertines (none the reviews of it I have seen make this claim). In my view, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Any focus on our beloved philosophy is a good thing. So, thank you, Miss (sic) MacLean.


12:35 pm on June 30, 2017