9781860466793 / 1860466796

Property and Freedom


Publisher:Harvill Pr



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About the book:

Richard Pipes offers a vigorous defense of a fundamental freedom--private property--in this engaging mix of history, economics, and political theory. Western historians "take property for granted," complains the acclaimed scholar of Russian history (and author of the masterful The Russian Revolution). Pipes argues that a greater appreciation for this institution is necessary if liberty is to survive in the 21st century. "While property in some form is possible without liberty, the contrary is inconceivable," he says. Property rights give rise to the political and legal institutions that secure freedom. Their absence practically invites atrocity. The sinister regimes of Communist Russia and Nazi Germany were fiercely opposed to private property. Those regimes' "simultaneous violation of property rights and destruction of human lives," he emphasizes, "were not mere coincidences."

While the bulk of the book compares England and Russia, showing how varying attitudes toward private property led these two nations in totally different directions, the final section examines the broad theme of property rights in the late 20th century--a period when they have come under assault, and have been made increasingly conditional, by the growing strength of the welfare state. Pipes concludes with a broadside against New Deal and Great Society programs. Although liberal readers may bristle, none can deny that Property and Freedom is the product of a great mind tackling a big theme with great enthusiasm. --John J. Miller

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