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About the book Crisis and Leviathan

Center on Peace & Liberty Non-Interventionism



Non-interventionism, sometimes called neutrality or “isolationism” (more often by its detractors), refers, unsurprisingly, to a government’s deliberate policy of abstaining from interfering in the affairs of other countries. It was the foreign policy of such early American statesmen as George Washington (as seen in his Farewell Address), Thomas Jefferson (as seen in his First Inaugural Address), and John Quincy Adams (as seen in his July 4, 1821, address as Secretary of State) and of later political leaders such as Senators Robert LaFollette and Robert Taft.

Traditional American non-interventionism was combined with advocacy of free international trade and the free movement of people, which is why the term “isolationism” was inappropriate. These policies are consistent because they avoid intervention in the affairs of foreign nations and in the private transactions of international finance and commerce. Today many left and right opponents of abstaining from military intervention nevertheless want the government to limit private global commercial relations. In fact, both proponents of military interventionism and opponents of free global trade and capital flows are the true “isolationists.” Classical liberals also oppose neo-mercantilist policies--that is governmental subsidization of industry through subsidies of the use of armed force to open or guarantee foreign markets. But the classical-liberal descendants of America’s founding generation (libertarians) consistently uphold non-intervention and private global free-market activity. They oppose both economic nationalism and the sort of globalism that entails trade managed by governments or their international organizations, realizing that both approaches require government control over private resources and individual liberty.

Non-interventionism averts the perilous dynamic of its opposite policy, in which government meddling creates crises that in turn rationalize more power and further meddling. For this reason, it has also been called the foreign policy of peace.

Also, click here for Bibliography for Crisis and Leviathan.

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History of U.S. Foreign Policy:

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Impact Domestically:

Carpenter, Ted Galen. The Captive Press: Foreign Policy Crises and the First Amendment. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute 1995.

Higgs, Robert. “Crisis and Quasi-Corporatist Policy-Making: The U.S. Case in Historical Perspective,” The World & I, November 1988.

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“Crisis, Bigger Government, and Ideological Change: Two Hypotheses on the Ratchet Phenomenon,” Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 22 (1985).

“Crisis-Induced Losses of Liberties,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2002.

“Defending the Homeland,” The Free Market, May 2002.

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Indigenous Defense:

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Asprey, Robert B. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975.

Benson, Bruce L. “Crime Control Through Private Enterprise,” The Independent Review, Vol. II, No. 3 (Winter 1998), pp. 341-371.

“Customary Law With Private Means of Resolving Disputes and Dispensing Justice: A Description of a Modern System of Law and Order Without State Coercion,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2.

“Enforcement of Private Property Rights in Primitive Societies: Law without Government,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 9 No. 1.

The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State. San Francisco, Calif.: Pacific Research Institute, 1990.

“Guns for Protection, and Other Private Sector Responses to the Government’s Failure to Control Crime,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. VIII, No. 1 (Winter 1986), pp. 75-109.

To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice. New York, N.Y.: New York University, 1998.

Bruno, Roberto and Joseph H. H. Weiler. “Access of Private Parties to International Dispute Settlement: A Comparative Analysis,” Working Paper, NYU School of Law, 1997.

Camm, Frank A. Expanding Private Production of Defense Services (No. MR-734). Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation, 1996.

Ellis, John. A Short History of Guerrilla Warfare. London: Ian Allan, 1975.

Friedman, David. “Anarchy and Efficient Law,” from the book, For and Against the State, John Sanders and Jan Narveson, eds. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996.

The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism. New York: Harper Colophon, 1973.

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. “Fallacies of the Public Goods Theory and the Production of Security,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Winter 1989), pp. 28-46.

“The Private Production of Defence,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1.

—, ed. The Private Production of Defense: Essays in Political Economy. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, forthcoming.

Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers. “The American Militia and the Origin of Conscription: A Reassessment,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 15 No. 4.

“National Goods Versus Public Goods: Defense, Disarmament, and Free Riders,” Review of Austrian Economics, 4 (1990), 88-122.

Joes, Anthony James. America and Guerilla Warfare. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.

From the Barrel of a Gun: Armies and Revolutions. New York: Elsevier Science, 1986.

Guerrilla Conflict Before the Cold War. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1996.

Guerrilla Warfare: A Historical, Biographical, and Bibliographical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing, 1996.

Modern Guerrilla Insurgency. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1992.

Kutger, Joseph P. “Irregular Warfare in Transition,” Military Affairs, 24, 3 (Autumn 1960), pp. 113-123.

Marina, William F. “The American Revolution and the Minority Myth,” Modern Age (1976).

—“The American Revolution as a People’s War,” Reason (July, 1976), pp. 28-9, 32, 34-8.

—“Militia, Standing Armies and the Second Amendment,” Law and Liberty, 2, 4 (Spring 1976), pp. 1-4.

—“Revolution and Social Change: The American Revolution As a People’s War,” Literature of Liberty, I, 2 (April-June 1978), pp. 5-39.

—“Weapons, Technology, and Legitimacy: The Second Amendment in Global Perspective,” in Don B. Kates, ed., Firearms and Violence: Issues of Public Policy. Lexngton, Mass.: Ballinger, 1984.

Marina, William F. and Diane Cuervo. “The Dutch-American Guerilla in the American Revolution,” Literature of Liberty.

McGrath. Roger D. Gunfighters, Highwaymen and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

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The Society of Tomorrow: A Forecast of Its Political and Economic Organisation. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904. [Online Book]

Soirées on the Rue Saint-Lazare: Conversations on Economic Laws and Defense of Property. 1849. Enlightening dialogues between a socialist, a conservative and a libertarian. [Online Book]

Osterfeld, David, “Anarchism and the Public Goods Issue: Law, Courts, and the Police,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1.

Rothbard, Murray N. “Robert Nozick and the Immaculate Conception of the State,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. I, No. 1 (1977), 45-57.

—“Society Without a State,” Nomos, 19 (1978), 191-207.

Sechrest, Larry J. “Privateering and National Defense,” Working Paper No. 41. Oakland, Calif.: The Independent Institute.

Stromberg, Joseph R. “The War for Southern Independence: A Radical Libertarian Perspective,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1 (1979), 31-53.

Tabarrok, Alexander. “Bring on the Bounty Hunters.” Oakland, Calif.: The Independent Institute.