The Nature of Man and His Government
There’s probably no sense in trying to highlight the quotable and brilliant passages in this small manifesto by Robert LeFevre (1911-1986). Nearly every sentence so qualifies. The clarity of the prose and the penetrating analysis he provides of all the essential questions of our time is absolutely overwhelming.
The Nature of Man and His Government is a surprisingly brilliant manifesto, first published in 1959. You can fight your way through whole libraries and millions of Internet links and not find this much wisdom provided in this much space. This is the kind of book that makes you wonder why the author is not better known, why he is not very frequently mentioned in the canon of libertarian thinkers. We can hope that this edition of his best book will begin to change that.
LeFevre’s primary goal was to get at the truth. He approached the quest methodically, not as a preacher, but as a thinker. He sought to find answers to the fundamental questions. What makes man different from other animals? Why does man create government, and for what purpose? Does government actually achieve that purpose? What is the effect of government on man’s capacity to realize his unique genius?
LeFevre concluded that, while laws are necessary social conventions, government is not. The way he arrives at that conclusion is, perhaps, different from any you have read. He doesn’t announce it in the form of an ideology, but rather arrives at it through the sheer power of strings of logic and evidence. It is also notable to consider the time in which he was writing. This was the late 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, a time when both left and right were convinced that all that stood between us and total disaster was the national security and welfare states. LeFevre concluded that both amount to machines of warfare against the individual.
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