This book’s four main theses:
(1) Interpersonal liberty requires an explicit, pre-propertarian, purely factual, theory.
(2) Liberty is—and need only be—morally desirable in systematic practice, not in every logically possible case. In practice, there is no clash between the two main moral contenders: rights and consequences.
(3) It is logically impossible to justify, ground, or support any theory of liberty or its applications. Theories can only be explained, criticised, and defended within conjectural frameworks.
(4) The state is inherently authoritarian and also negative-sum. It reduces welfare overall, with the losses compounding over time. Libertarian anarchic order is the positive-sum solution to illiberal political chaos.
"One typical snippet from this extremely interesting and trenchant book is this: ‘There is no "rich libertarian problem". But there is a confused-socialist problem.’ The ‘problems’ that so many authors purport to find in libertarianism are problems in those authors’ ill-considered formulations of what they claim to be criticizing. Lester straightens them out, and in the process shows that the alleged objections aren’t objections at all. ...it’s rewarding reading."
Jan Narveson, author of The Libertarian Idea
“J C Lester wrote the ground-breaking libertarian book Escape from Leviathan, which expounds and defends the non-normative conjecture that interpersonal liberty, general welfare, and market anarchy are compatible. In this new book, Dr. Lester subjects various accounts of libertarianism to a thorough philosophical dissection and also confronts some of his critics in a clear, engaging, and cogent manner. This shows the power of his combination of critical rationalism and his own theory of libertarianism.”
Ray Scott Percival is the author of The Myth of the Closed Mind: Explaining Why and How People are Rational
"J C Lester is the most acute contemporary thinker on the fundamentals of libertarian philosophy. In the now-classic Escape from Leviathan, he shook libertarian theory loose from traditional assumptions. His iconoclastic claim that liberty can and must be theorized independently of self-ownership and property and yet implies them in practice has proved to be remarkably robust and fecund. In this new work, Lester dispatches his theoretical opponents with all the verve and ruthlessness of Sabatini’s Scaramouche."
David Ramsay Steele, author of From Marx to Mises and Atheism Explained