Social Analysis

Our Enemy the State, by Albert Jay Nock (1935; reprint, New York: Libertarian Review Foundation, 1989). An eloquent case for liberty by one of the great modern English stylists. As Nock remarks, "Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators, and beneficiaries from those of a professional criminal class."

The Political Writings of Richard Cobden (New York: Kraus Reprint, 1969). A useful collection of the political writings of the great English free trade anti- imperialist. Includes his classic essay, "How Wars Are Got Up in India."

The State, by Anthony de Jasay (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985). De Jasay proposes a theory of state action that looks at the state as having ends and a kind of will of its own. This book offers a very insightful and revealing way of thinking about the state.

The Rise and Fall of the Elites: An Application of Theoretical Sociology, by Vilfredo Pareto (Totowa, N.J.: Bedminster Press, 1968). A classic treatment by the famous Italian economist and sociologist of the circulation of elites in free societies and of the attempts by such elites to cement their positions through state power.

The State, by Franz Oppenheimer. See the discussion in the section on Philosophy and Social Theory.

"A Theory of the Origin of the State," by Robert Carneiro in Science 169 (August 1970). A sociological treatment of the emergence of states, focusing on geographical factors.

Freedom and Domination: A Historical Critique of Culture, by Alexander Rustow (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980). An important work for understanding the origins of the state and of social stratification. See the discussion in the section on History.

Political Parties, by Robert Michels (New York: Free Press, 1962). The classic study of oligarchy in social organization, including the clearest statement of "The Iron Law of Oligarchy."

The State Against Blacks, by Walter Williams. See the discussion in the section on Race and Ethnic Conflict.

Political Control of the Economy, by Edward Tufte (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978). A careful and detailed study of the political business cycle in America, revealing how governments manipulate the economy to ensure reelection.

The Ruling Class, by Gaetano Mosca (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1939). A classic work of political science on the emergence of ruling elites in political structures.

Vilfredo Pareto: Sociological Writings, ed. by S. E. Finer (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1976). A well edited selection of Pareto's writings on sociology; the best of his writings on "spoliation" are on pages 114-120, 137-142, 162-164, 270, 276-278, 315, and 317-318.

"'La Scienza delle Finanze': The Italian Tradition in Fiscal Theory," by James Buchanan, in his Fiscal Theory and Political Economy: Selected Essays (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960). The best introduction to the Italian fiscal theorists by the Nobel Laureate economist and pioneer of modern "public choice" economics. This essay is crucial to understanding public choice.

"The Fundamental Principles of a Pure Theory of Public Finance," by Giovanni Montemartini in Classics in the Theory of Public Finance, ed. by Richard A. Musgrave and Alan T. Peacock (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967). Offers a theory of political entrepreneurship based on a predatory theory of the state.

On Power, by Bertrand de Jouvenel (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962). A valuable study of the origins and functioning of power by a prominent French classical liberal.

A New History of Leviathan, ed. by Murray N. Rothbard and Ronald Radosh (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972). A valuable collection of essays on the emergence of twentieth-century leviathan.

Return to [Selected Issues] [Guide to Classical Liberal Scholarship][IHS homepage]