One of the Most Important Books on Liberty of our Time
Introduction to Robin Koerner’s “If You Can Keep It”
By Jeffrey Tucker
In modern times, the case for human liberty in its classical form has been radically, horribly, destructively misrepresented and hence misunderstood. It is not a plan for the socio-political order, imposed by intellectuals with an ideology. It is not an ethic of individualism that insists that dogs should eat dogs. It is not a partisan plot to skew the affairs of government for capital and against labor, or for any one group against any other group. It is not a slogan for a would-be junta weilding perfect knowledge of the way all things should work.
The case for liberty is for a social process that is free to discover the best social institutions to enliven and realize human dignity through choice and with love. In order for that to happen, we need what might be called, in the tradition of C.S. Lewis, mere liberty: the freedom to own, act, speak, think, and innovate. The exercises of such rights is incompatible with government management of the economy and the social order.
It seems rather simple, right? I think so. But brilliant ideas come in simple and effervescent packages. This is a good description of Robin Koerner’s provocative and revisionist work, which I am humbled to introduce. It is a work of stunning erudition and sincerity. I also happen to agree with it. I’ve been struggling toward a similar thesis for a good part of my writing career, though I’m certain Robin has gone beyond even my most mature thought.