Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Ph.D.

TOTAL FREEDOM

TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM

REVIEWS

RODERICK T. LONG, "THE BENEFITS AND HAZARDS OF DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM," THE JOURNAL OF AYN RAND STUDIES 2, NO. 2 (SPRING 2001):  395-448.

(Long has additional comments on anarchism, here.)


Long writes:  "In 1995, Chris Matthew Sciabarra published two revolutionary books that sought to challenge and transform the self-understanding of the libertarian and Objectivist communities by linking two of the twentieth century's foremost defenders of individual liberty, Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek, with an intellectual tradition that both thinkers professed to despise:  the dialectical approach of Hegel and Marx.  These books were the first two volumes of a trilogy devoted to exploring the connections between libertarianism and dialectics. . . . TF is a book of impressive virtues.  Along with its two predecessors, it decisively demonstrates the absurdity of the hackneyed charge that libertarian thought is 'simplistic' or 'atomistic.'  Sciabarra makes a compelling case for the existence of dialectical tendencies in major libertarian thinkers like Hayek, Rand, and Rothbard, as well as the value of such tendencies and hence the need to develop and foster them in future libertarian work.

"Sciabarra's strictures against utopian constructivism are ones that libertarian theorists need to take to heart.  . . . Perhaps the most valuable aspect of TF is its insistence on the importance of the cultural preconditions of liberty. . . . In short, TF is a treat:  a scholarly tour de force that successfully integrates seemingly disparate intellectual traditions, while providing a feast of valuable insights whose assimilation promises to raise libertarian theory to new heights of sophistication, flexibility, and theoretical power."

Long finds some flaws in the book, however.  He argues that Sciabarra's neglect of certain crucial distinctions vitiates to some extent his case for dialectics, his critique of Murray Rothbard's anarchism, and his application of the Objectivist theory of abstraction to the problem of internal relations.  Still, Long concludes that "Sciabarra is dragging libertarianism--kicking and screaming if need be--out of its neglected corner and into the center of contemporary social thought, where it belongs.  In these respects, Total Freedom, along with the trilogy of which it forms a part, may well prove to be among the most important libertarian works ever written."

Sciabarra's Response to Long Click here to view the Author's response

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