Spooner is best known for this historic coup over the government, yet he had a long career of sticking it to the man. He broke state law by setting up a legal practice in Massachusetts despite having neither graduated from college nor studied under another attorney for five years.
In 1845 Spooner published The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, in which he wove a complex system of legal and moral arguments against the legality of bondage.
Though he spent the next 20 years campaigning for the abolishment of slavery, Spooner also recognized the right of the Confederate States of America to secede from the union. Spooner’s nuanced morality would fit with neither side’s position during the Civil War.
Spooner was an individualist anarchist. He believed big government hampers mankind’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, and indeed makes said pursuit nigh impossible. He was adamant that the Constitution, for all good it represents, is not a contract into which Americans could be rightfully entered on birth. To Spooner no less than the dissolution of Congress was required to restore man’s God-given autonomy.
Spooner’s legacy doesn’t only endure through affordable postage. He greatly influenced early libertarian theory and the Austrian School of economics. Lysander Spooner quotes taken from The Unconstitutionality of Slavery were cited in District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled to preserve Second Amendment rights.
Freedom, Individualism, and Anarchy: Great Lysander Spooner Quotes
- “Certainly no man can rightfully be required to join, or support, an association whose protection he does not desire.”
- “Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.”
- “A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.”
MERCH INSPIRED BY FRIEDICH HAYEK
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Friedrich von Hayek’s pioneering work in economics will never make him as famous as, say, “Snookie” from Jersey Shore. But if fame were based on influence and academic merit – and he hadn’t died in 1992 – then Hayek could still sell out Madison Square Garden with live readings of The Road to Serfdom.
Hayek believed a society could only prosper if driven by creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and that any social system which represses the gifted and ambitious is doomed to produce only misery at best. In the Soviet Union, which was the closest approximation of Hayek’s vision of hell ever achieved on Earth, people would risk life and limb just to buy copies of his books on the black market. The fall of the Iron Curtain was due in no small part to Hayek’s ideas.
Hayek was not an idealist to a fault. He did not, for example, assert that the kind of people who idolize Snookie would directly benefit from freedom of thought. You are not equipped to appreciate that freedom if you are incapable of thinking. He simply wished for Western democracies to cease putting fetters on their few exceptional citizens so that they might lead the way for the rest of the masses.
Hayek was not an absolute anarchist, either. He didn’t perceive the free market as some magic wand that could wave away all of society’s ills. His ideal government would play a limited role, serving its people in the few spheres where the free market doesn’t concern itself.
If you wish the government would stop promoting “the greater good” at the expense of impeding innovation and actual progress, or believe that collectivism shouldn’t be enforced by the tip of a bureaucrat’s pen, then Hayek is your boy.