A tour of libertarian intellectual heritage and game-changing political thought from the 17th through mid-19th century, examining the foundations for liberty laid by Hume, Smith, Locke, America’s Founding Fathers, and more. Learn about the impact of radical reformers in the Civil War era, individualist anarchists, and Tocqueville’s views on American democracy. Discuss critics of classical liberal thought like Marx, Engels, and Rousseau. Connect the libertarian intellectual heritage to the emergence of civil rights and other issues relevant for today. This seminar is ideal for IHS Summer Seminar alumni and students who are familiar with the libertarian conceptual framework.
Revolutionaries, Reformers, and Radicals: Liberty Emerges
Proto-Austrians: The Spanish Scholastics
Well before Adam Smith, David Hume, and Carl Menger, Jesuits in Salamanca, Spain, like Luis de Molina and Francisco de Vitoria, were arguing about just prices, free trade, and private property. Find out why libertarian luminaries like Murray Rothbard and F.A. Hayek admired their work and found their insights relevant to Austrian economics.
The Scottish Enlightenment
Discover the insights of Scottish philosophers Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith, and David Hume. Consider their understandings of moral virtue, human nature, and liberty, and connect their views to questions of obligation, private property, and the legitimacy of government. See why these thinkers continue to influence and inspire classical liberal thought and the liberty movement.
Lunch & Free Time – Talk, explore, run, throw a Frisbee, read, nap…it’s up to you! (*Tuesday afternoon and evening are free for participants to visit friends nearby or explore the surrounding areas.)
Critics of Liberty: Marx and Engels
Capitalism and liberalism have their defenders, but what about their detractors? Learn about two of the most historically significant critics of economic and political liberty. Cast aside your caricatures of these critics and carefully consider their concerns regarding the impact of industrialization on the working poor, the problems of wage labor, and the inequalities generated by private ownership of the means of production. Reflect on how their arguments continue to have an impact on political leaders throughout the world and discuss how to address their criticisms.
Dinner – Continue the conversations started earlier in the day. How might Smith and Hume respond to Marx and Engels? Do the Scholastics’ views on the problems establishing just prices tell us anything about how to approach questions of scarcity, price gouging, or inequality?
The 19th century saw a wave of important critics of the state, such as Lysander Spooner, Josiah Warren, and Benjamin Tucker. These thinkers questioned hierarchy, social conventions, and the interests of the ruling classes and of the wealthy. Learn how they influenced both right- and left-libertarianism in the 20th century.
Evening Social – Enjoy a drink, some friendly debate, and in-depth discussions that linger late into the night.