Read The Man Versus the State (Talbot Collection of British Pamphlets) by Herbert Spencer Free Online
Book Title: The Man Versus the State (Talbot Collection of British Pamphlets)|
The author of the book: Herbert Spencer
The size of the: 31.61 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.3
Edition: General Books
Format files: PDF
Date of issue: January 10th 2010
ISBN 13: 9781153015318
Read full description of the books:
Only pedophiles, alas, are more hated than the so-called "social darwinists" - whose granddaddy Herbert Spencer (who coined the term "survival of the fittest") is. This is rather unfair, and sad.
Spencer was a great intellectual and an important thinker. He was, contrary to the cold and selfish image with which he is treated, a passionate believer in human progress and the virtues of voluntary human cooperation. He simply opposed all forms of COERCED cooperation under what he called a "militant" society - i.e. a society that put the interests of the collective over the individual.
He was a proto-libertarian, or a true classical liberal, who believed in limited government, or even a minimal governemnt - a nightwatchman state. Many of his arguments are typical liberal arguments.
The fact that he was a classical liberal who happened to live in an age of declining belief in the power of the free market as the necessary foundation of a good society; and the fact that he combined classical liberalism with an "organistic", social-darwinian worldview; together meant that he became, and still remains, one of the most hated and misunderstood thinkers of the modern era.
He provided an evolutionary account of society's progress through the elimination of the unsuccessful and the prospering of the successful, which many considered callous and cruel - in an age of rising socialism. But, contrary to the eugenicists, he did not believe the GOVERNMENT ought to eliminate or hinder anybody. He believed unfit and unssuccessful forms of life would get weeded out by themselves in the natural progress of things. His judge of things was the impersonal spontaneous order of society, where free men were free to pursue their own ends in peace.
What was his relationship to the government? He argued for a small government which maximized human liberty. He was opposed to the rising welfare state. He believed the government ought neither help (provide support) nor hinder (discriminate against) anybody. The government should do little beyond taking care of the stability of the society, by maintaining law and order.
He was also an excellent essayist, and he could forge excellent prose at the flick of a hand.
I wish to focus on one essay, because I think it encapsulates the greatness of Spencer and the reason why his work is so relevant for us today. THE NEW TORYISM is a great essay that argues that the "new Whigs", the new liberals (of social democratic persuasion), by straying so far from the "old Whigs" (of classical liberalism), are, in fact, becoming the "new Tories": the proponents of a new "status society": a misguided regime of oppressive laws and government control of the economy.
The context behind this (true) allegation is the fact that, during the latter half of the 19th Century, the liberals in England moved leftward towards socialism (before the socialist parties were born). He lived to see (and condemn) the transition. He calls the bleeding-heart liberals on their intellectual mistake. He argues, convincingly, that arguing for extensive proactive legislationt constitutes an abandonment of old liberal principles. He, in fact, accuses the new liberals, of turncoatism of the worst kind: they argue, out of well-meaning philantropic concerns, for the introduction of new restrictions on human liberty, without even knowing they are acting like the Tories of old: destroying human progress and individual liberty.
This essay - and the collection in general - should be mandatory reading for anybody frustrated with the sophistry and self-deception of the "new liberals" of our own time - who, by accusing capitalism of causing all our misery, have instituted new slavery on earth - all in the name of helping the poor and needy, of course usually with results contrary to those intended.
Other great essays in the collection include:
THE COMING SLAVERY - a potent critique of central planning and communist fantasy, which anticipates, chillingly, the horrors of Soviet communism - by 50 years!
& THE GREAT POLITICAL SUPERSTITION, which argues, with great force and persuasion, that while "The function of Liberalism in the past was that of putting a limit to the powers of kings. The function of true Liberalism in the future will be that of putting a limit to the powers of Parliaments."
This collection of essays is one of the greatest libertarian/liberal reservoirs of wisdom. It should be read by ANYBODY with an interest in a free society and faith in free human progress. It is like a "sceptre of infinite power" in the hands of anybody with a healthy suspicion of the well-meaning but morally repugnant - and society-retarding - legislative acts of greedy humanitarian lawmakers.
Social Darwinism, despite the reputation, should be revitalized, into a new, if eternal, political force; the true monsters today are the left-leaning, well-meaning collectivists in state control.
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Read information about the authorHerbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era.
Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. He was "an enthusiastic exponent of evolution" and even "wrote about evolution before Darwin did." As a polymath, he contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, religion, anthropology, economics, political theory, philosophy, literature, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English-speaking academia. "The only other English philosopher to have achieved anything like such widespread popularity was Bertrand Russell, and that was in the 20th century." Spencer was "the single most famous European intellectual in the closing decades of the nineteenth century" but his influence declined sharply after 1900; "Who now reads Spencer?" asked Talcott Parsons in 1937.
Spencer is best known for coining the expression "survival of the fittest", which he did in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use of Lamarckism.