Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Ph.D.

TOTAL FREEDOM

TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM

REVIEWS

PETER JAWORSKI, THE FREE RADICAL 46 (APRIL-MAY 2001):  8-9.


Jaworski writes:  ". . . An exceptionally prolific character on the libertarian stage, Sciabarra is shunned by the orthodox . . . but is at least listened to by the . . . heterodoxy . . .  No stranger to controversy or acclaim, Sciabarra is one of those stubborn academics with his hand in many a cookie jar.   From articles to books to online studies, his mission seems to be to stir up a hornet's nest while leaving even the harshest critic pause for thought. 

"Total Freedom . . . is bound to alter the way we approach the study of liberty.  Massive in scope, Sciabarra's work succeeds at taking a mountain of information and summarizing it beautifully.  The wide-ranging historical summary of the usage of dialectics alone is worth the price of the book.   Its true worth, however, lies in the interpretation and insights Sciabarra brings to these summaries.  This book's central strength is in its simple truth.   Sciabarra does not attempt to bedazzle his audience with philosophical baubles; instead he brings to the fore that which constitutes good thinking."

Though Jaworski criticizes some of Sciabarra's language and his "cacophony of footnotes" (despite their ability "to augment Sciabarra's points"), he praises Sciabarra's "meticulous . . . brilliant summary and analysis of the dialectic. . . ."  But even "more edifying," is Sciabarra's discussion of Rothbard, which "guides the reader through the labyrinth of Rothbardian thought, exposing its nuances and richness in an unparalleled manner.   For those of you relatively unfamiliar with Rothbard, consider this your primer.   Sciabarra's familiarity and ease of association with Rothbard's dynamic works comes across forcefully.  A character who has hitherto been treated mostly as an economist, Sciabarra's engagement with him will surely expand that treatment into political, epistemological and general philosophy.  Rothbard's majestic mind comes through with profound vigour in the pages of Total Freedom.  It is as enlightening as it is courageous, as scholarly as it is exhaustive."

Jaworski questions whether Sciabarra's treatment of anarchism will "carry much weight" with individualist anarchists, and raises a number of challenging points with regard to the minimal state.  And whereas the book provides "the equivalent of a 'scientific method'" in laying the basis for the development of a dialectical libertarianism, Jaworski looks forward to Sciabarra's future work for such a theoretical turn. 

"One final word about the book," says Jaworski.   "[Y]ou may be surprised by Sciabarra's willingness to not only engage the left, but to learn from them as well. . . . And for this he will, and has been, severely criticized.  This criticism, however, is completely and profoundly misplaced. . . . The academy is riddled and owned by the left; they dictate the course of the humanities . . . In order to challenge these ideas, we'll have to work not only from without, but also from within.  Sciabarra should be credited with his audacity on this score.  He is, after all, in the lion's den--the academy--a place not as welcoming to libertarians as you'd hope.  Honesty, integrity and scholarship--this book, and its author, are full of it.  Whatever else might be said, these things cannot be sidestepped or ignored."


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