I was primed to love this book. I admire the main author, Michael Strong, and the previous work he has done (both in terms of his writing and activism...moreI was primed to love this book. I admire the main author, Michael Strong, and the previous work he has done (both in terms of his writing and activism). Others I respect have recommended the book as well. However, though there are great things about the book, I was left somewhat disappointed.
I like the ideas in the book: many of them are important and essential for human progress and development. The goals of the authors are worthwhile and idealistic.
Nevertheless, I was hoping for more focus and specifics on the different entrepreneurs and the kind of things they did to help alleviate and deal with different kinds of problems. There was some of that, but not nearly enough.
The chapters were uneven. Some had great nuggets of insight but others were either too foofy or too new-agey. The best parts where the ones that focused on real entrepreneurs and their work. The weaker parts where the attempts at pop psychology and self-help that made up the chapters on the FLOW vision.
When Tomasi’s book first came in 2012, it got a lot of attention in libertarian circles. He challenged a lot of preconceived notions about libertarian...moreWhen Tomasi’s book first came in 2012, it got a lot of attention in libertarian circles. He challenged a lot of preconceived notions about libertarianism, fairness, and justice. Tomasi sets out in this book to create a kind of hybrid between the commitments typically associated with libertarians (and/or classical liberalism, market liberalism, etc.) and the commitments normally tied to what he calls High Liberalism (welfare liberalism, modern liberalism, egalitarian liberalism, etc.).
A more provocative way to put what Tomasi gives us in this book is a Rawlsian libertarianism. I over simply here, but Tomasi essentially takes the core premises of Rawls’ conception of justice as fairness and uses it to defend a kind of libertarianism. Or rather, he argues that a proper understanding of what is required by justice as fairness and the moral premises behind it is best realized in a regime that thoroughly protects economic liberty (alongside—and for similar reasons—political liberty). Further, the demands of social justice are best met under such a system as well.
Whatever you might ultimately think about the overall argument (and I remain skeptical though sympathetic), you have to give Tomasi credit for engaging in this huge revisionary project. At worst, it is an engaging and enlightening exercise to see what might happen if you accept Rawlsian starting points but add to it the moral importance of economic liberty. It’s an interesting way to learn about and further one’s understanding of Rawls (as well as economic liberty). At best, Tomasi has put forward a program the reunites the divided liberal house and sets it a more solid moral foundation.
Ultimately, I don’t think Tomasi’s project is successful on the latter account. This is because I do not think the moral foundations upon which the project is based are the correct ones. Nevertheless, the book is worth a read by anyone interested in liberty or justice. If you more libertarian minded, you will get a presentation of the modern liberal point of view that is fair, charitable, and clear. This better prepares you to understand the philosophical viewpoint that you are up against without misrepresentation or oversimplification. If you more in the Rawlsian vein, you ought to read it because it will challenge many of the ways you might think about justice as fairness and related ideas. Either way, you may not come to agree with Tomasi but you will most certainly learn something.
Brief it is, but still manages to be a thorough and extensive history and discussion of liberty and freedom. Convassing many different conceptions of...moreBrief it is, but still manages to be a thorough and extensive history and discussion of liberty and freedom. Convassing many different conceptions of liberty, it is not a polemic or didactic work. It is thoughtful and well-researched. The authors deal with interesting questions and problems that arise within the history of freedom, including some of the contemporary social psych literature that is sometimes cast as providing a basis to reject the claims of classical liberalism. I hope my students find it as useful and as interesting as I did.(less)
A concise, engaging, and clear history of this important and fundamental liberty. The depth of the research that is packed into a relatively short boo...moreA concise, engaging, and clear history of this important and fundamental liberty. The depth of the research that is packed into a relatively short book is amazing; indeed, I found myself reading the footnotes as closely as the text itself. The only negative thing I would say about the book is that it ends, understandably, on such a negative note. It is depressing as the full effect of the court's neglect and twisting of such key liberties sets in. I would have liked an epilogue with a look to the future on how to restore the constitutional protection of the liberty of contract. Then again, maybe that future is as bleak as the past.(less)
**spoiler alert** If Friedman is right about his forecast, it will be an interesting future indeed. More than likely, though, it will be even far more...more**spoiler alert** If Friedman is right about his forecast, it will be an interesting future indeed. More than likely, though, it will be even far more interesting than this. The book was a lot of fun and surprisingly gripping. He weaves together a "history" of the next century in a clear and readable way. His method is one of mainly looking at historical geopolitical patterns and then applying them to the next century. There are some surprising things that Friedman predicts. Poland! Who'd have guessed it.
Friedman seems to be at his best when discussing these historical patterns; as he applies them to the future, I am less convinced. It is fun (like reading science fiction or alternative history), but unlikely that Friedman has guessed right.
My biggest issue with Friedman is in economics. Friedman proceeds on the following assumptions (sometimes implicit/sometimes explicit) which I think are wrong: 1) wars stimulate the economy. (1a: massive debt incurred to fight wars don't matter but if they do, they stimulate the economy) 2) the relative economic freedom or lack thereof doesn't seem to play a role in his thinking about how the countries will evolve. 3) he seems to put the cart before the horse on military and economic power (e.g. US military power is what gives the US its economic power).