Wednesday, October 04, 2023

A one year anniversary

Andrew Koppelman

In the year since I published Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed, it has sold more than 3,000 copies! 

It isn’t enough and I’m asking everyone for help selling more.

A university press, such as the ones that have published my earlier books, would be dancing in the streets with sales like this.  But I’m reliably advised that St. Martin’s, a big trade publisher, is unlikely to issue a paperback edition unless they sell about 5000.  The good news is that Amazon has heavily discounted the book, which is now available for $16.58 in hardcover and $14.99 for Kindle.

Here’s why you should buy the book and give copies to all your friends.

You probably know at least one libertarian.  This person is probably idealistic, a friend of human freedom, a hater of oppression and abuse.  What makes them a libertarian is that they believe that the way to make people freer is to limit government to an absolute minimum, or perhaps to nothing at all.  Until now, there was no book that could explain to them how they have gone wrong – how this philosophy is in fact a new road to serfdom.

That’s why I wrote Burning Down the House.  The book is an unusual mix of history, political philosophy, and even a bit of law.  I needed to draw on all of those to explain how, for example, a weird rhetoric of liberty has helped to create global climate disaster.  It was my hope that this book could become the standard cure for this intellectual pathology, explaining, in terms that a bright high school student could understand, where libertarianism came from and what has gone wrong with it.

Teachers of history, philosophy, and politics ought to consider assigning it, because it will show students why certain apparently abstruse ideas are in fact having a huge impact on their lives and futures.  It will also help them to avoid certain common undergraduate pathologies, such as reading John Locke and mistaking him for Robert Nozick.  (As I show, they’re actually pretty far apart.)  Professors don’t like to require hardcover books, which is one reason why the paperback matters, but right now this one is priced like a paperback.

And your friend the libertarian absolutely needs to be given this book.  It is a sort of Narcan for libertarians.  It will keep them alive until they can be gotten to the hospital.


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