TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM
STEVEN HORWITZ, "REVIEW," THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS 17, NO. 4 (DECEMBER 2004): 457-61.
Horwitz writes: "Chris Sciabarra's Total Freedom is subtitled 'Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism,' which suggests why it might be of interest to some working in the Austrian tradition. But the title and subtitle might obscure the fact that what awaits the reader inside is of even greater interest to Austrians than it might first appear. There is a reason that Menger, Mises, and Rothbard appear on the front cover (along with Aristotle and Ayn Rand). What Sciabarra offers inside is a dual reinterpretation of both dialectic philosophy and radical libertarianism that weaves the two together to formulate the subject matter of the subtitle: a dialectical approach to libertarianism. In doing so, he relies a great deal on the Austrian scholarship of the last 10 to 15 years to establish the dialectical underpinning of a theory of the market. The book offers a new way to think about the applicability of Austrian theories of the market to broader questions of social theory, and in turn challenges Austrians to be more consciously aware of these connections. The result is a book that is a major contribution to both liberal social theory and, as a by-product, Austrian economics."
Horwitz discusses the contents of the book in detail, focusing special attention on how "Sciabarra lays the groundwork for his dialectical libertarianism by arguing that the Austrian school has a legitimate place among contemporary dialectical approaches to social theory." Horwitz focuses much attention on Sciabarra's "good starting point" in providing "a very illuminating discussion of Rothbard's turn toward so-called 'paleo-libertarianism.'" Horwitz stresses that "[i]t is the very freedom of the market that calls forth the evolution of cultural institutions," including the family. He also applauds Sciabarra's emphasis on how "contemporary Austrians have endogenized crucial elements of the political structure and enhanced our ability to understand the mutual relationships between markets and politics."
Horwitz concludes: "Total Freedom marks out a unique, and philosophically and intellectually sophisticated argument for libertarianism. A short review focused on the Austrian elements in the book cannot [do] justice to the breadth and depth of Sciabarra's scholarship, nor to the subtlety of his arguments. For those whose interests encompass both Austrian economics and political philosophy, as well as those doing Hayek scholarship, this book is a must-read, even if the historical work on dialectics in the first half is somewhat abstract and slow-going. Sciabarra's understanding of Austrian economics is first-rate, and this path-breaking application of those ideas to both dialectical philosophy and a new set of foundations for libertarian political philosophy is a perspective that will demand our attention in the years to come."