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  • It is with regret that we announce that we are no longer able to host the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith on the OLL website as Oxford University Press will no longer grant us the electronic rights to do so. Over the coming months we plan to replace as much as we can with other editions of his works.
  • A list of newly added items to The Forum
  • New to The Library
  • An anthology of The Best of the OLL in eBook formats - [also arranged by Theme]

March 2014: Fernando R. Tesón, “Hugo Grotius on War and the State”

In this discussion we want to explore what Grotius thought about the proper relationship between the laws of nature and the laws of nations, what limits (if any) can be legitimately and rightly placed on the conduct of states engaged in war, and to ask ourselves whether his insights have any relevance today. Another issue which will be debated is where does Grotius sit in the history of the classical liberal tradition? Do his ideas reinforce the power of the monarch (or modern state) to do practically anything they wish, or do they place real and binding restraints on what is permissible when one enters a state of war? Is he merely a transitional figure, or does his theory of the Rights of Peace have a more radical libertarian interpretation? The text under discussion is Liberty Fund's 3 volume edition of Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace (2005). 



Quotations about Liberty and Power


Leonard Read on Ludwig von Mises as the economic dictator of the U.S. (1971)

Leonard Read (1898-1983) relates a story about Ludwig von Mises who was asked what he would do if he were made dictator of the U.S. His immediate answer was that he would abdicate so as to unleash as much creative activity by individuals as possible:

The final question was posed at midnight: “Professor Mises, I agree with you that we are headed for troublous times. Now, let us suppose you were the dictator of these United States. What would you do?”

Quick as a flash came the reply, “I would abdicate!” Here we have the renunciation side of wisdom: man knowing he should not lord it over his fellows and rejecting even the thought.

Few among us are wise enough to know how little we know. Ignorance of limitations is to be expected from every one who does not see beyond himself. The wise man, on the other hand, achieves a measure of self-transcendence: he sees beyond himself, even beyond his environment. Knowing far more than the mill run of us, he measures his knowledge against what might be known and confesses to knowing nearly nothing. Such a rare individual weighs his finite knowledge on the scale of infinite truth, and his awareness of his limitations tells him never to lord it over others. Such a person would renounce any position of authoritarian rulership he might be proffered or, if accidentally finding himself in such a position, he would abdicate—forthwith!

See full quote and previous quotations about liberty.

Read the full quote in context here.

[More works by Ludwig von Mises (1881 – 1973) and on The Austrian School of Economics]

Images of Liberty and Power

Samuel warns the Israelites of the Dangers of Kings

"Saul is ordered to destroy all the Amalekites and their livestock,"
[page 24 verso, lower panel]
The Morgan Picture Bible (c. 1250)

[See larger image 900 px]

Many Christians in 17th century England and 17th and 18th century North America were struck by some passages in I Samuel in which the prophet Samuel warned about the dangers a King would pose to the liberties of the Israelite people. This struck a chord with those who were fighting the growing power of the Stuart monarchy or the efforts of the British Empire to exert its power over the North American colonies. The art we have chosen to illustrate these passages come from the Illustrated Bible commissioned by King Louis IX (1214-1270) of France in the mid-13th century. They provide a stark contrast to the anti-monarchical sentiment of 17th and 18th century Englishmen. Louis IX arranged for these illustrations to be made because he wanted to assert his divine right to rule France and saw in the commands of Samuel and the actions of King Saul both historical and theological precedent upon which he could draw to justify his own behavior. [More]

[See other works by Samuel]

[Archive of Images]
[Detailed Study Guides on Images of Liberty and Power]
[See our collection of paired Quotations and Images about Liberty & Power]

Anniversaries of our Authors and Books

Each year we list the significant anniversaries of authors or books in our collection:. See the list for 2013 (Books) - 2013 (People). Here are some highlights:

We also have a month-by-month Calendar of the Births and Deaths of the Authors in the OLL collection.

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Portable Library DVD

The new 6th edition of the Portable Library of Liberty data DVD is available. It now also includes ePub and Kindle versions of the texts. Request a complimentary copy.