The Liberal Alternative.

Part of the "Critiques of Libertarianism" site.

Last updated 08/07/08.

Often I have been criticized by libertarians for providing no alternative. So, against my better judgement, I'm going to be self-indulgent and list some of the liberal sources I most approve of.


The Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs, Chapter 69. Policy issues and recommendations.
A 1972 report detailing pragmatic alternatives to the drug war from a public health point of view, without the ridiculous libertarian demand for total deregulation.
LIBERALISM RESURGENT: A Response to the Right.
Steve Kangas' enormous review of liberal responses to right wing (including libertarian) claims.
The Short Faq On Liberalism.
A positive statement of what Liberalism means. It's surprising how many liberals have never seen a straightforward presentation of liberalism, and rely on their intuitive conceptions.
The Long Faq On Liberalism.
Partly inspired by the Non-Libertarian FAQ, but written at much greater length, the Long Faq On Liberalism rebuts many libertarian attacks on liberal positions.
Glossary Of Political And Economic Terms.
Basic, acceptable definitions essential to discussion of modern politics and economics.
Government's Greatest Achievements of the Past Half Century
A Brookings Institution report based on survey responses from 450 history and political science professors.
Who knew? The Swedish model is working.
Paul Krugman points out that CATO and other conservatives were dead wrong in their predictions for Sweden, and that big welfare states do sometimes work well. From The Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive.
A Basic Income For All
Phillipe Van Parijs' proposal for "real freedom", followed by essays by 15 very varied commentators and critics. From Boston Review and republished as "What's Wrong With a Free Lunch?"
Welfare: The Cheapest Country
This review of The Real Worlds Of Welfare Capitalism by Nobel economist Robert Solow gives the lie to libertarian claims of economic harms by welfare.
Efficiency, Sustainability, and Access Under Alternative Property-Rights Regimes
Elinor Ostrom provides a broad introduction to and overview of the factors that make some managed commons successful and more practical than private property. Essential reading.
The New Nationalism
Teddy Roosevelt's 1910 speech, remarkable for expressions such as "property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth".
The Future of Government: Mixed Economy or Minimal State?
John Quiggin points out that historical experience shows when states perform better than private industry, and thus economies should be mixed.
A Utilitarian FAQ
Ian Montgomerie's FAQ deals with most libertarian objections to utilitarianism.
The Swedish Social Democratic Party.
This site has a section, "Other Languages", with a number of .pdf publications. What is Social Democracy does a fabulous job of explaining one of the successful real-world alternatives to utopian libertarianism. Why we'd want more socialism than a minimal state involves.
NEW 10/06: The Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology
Jeffry Sachs' Scientific American article on how social welfare states do as well as or better than low-tax, high-income countries. The punch line is that Friedrich Von Hayek was wrong.
NEW 10/07: What would a progressive trade agenda look like?
Dani Rodrik favors globalization, but with benefits more widely distributed, leveraging democracy, and respect for different cultural norms.
NEW 8/08: The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer
The full text of Dean Baker's book. Not aimed at libertarians, but points out many things libertarians are confused about and ought to oppose by both libertarian and progressive standards.

Print References

The links here are to, through their associates program, primarily because of the review information. Books without links are generally out of print, and can often be easily found at AddAll Used and Out Of Print Search. Good sites for bargain shopping for sometimes expensive new books are Online Bookstore Price Comparison and AddAll Book Search and Price Comparison. Both of those list applicable coupons. Another is

John Kenneth Galbraith "The Good Society: the Humane Agenda"
Houghton Mifflin Co. 1997. The "why"s of liberalism, illustrating the competing goals in society and how to resolve them compassionately. A book of pragmatic compromise, that asks what is wanted by people rather than what ideology demands.
Philippe Van Parijs "Real Freedom for All: What (If Anything) Can Justify Capitalism?"
Oxford University Press, 1998. Policy implications for resolving the conflict between capitalism's unacceptable inequality and the paramount importance of real freedom.
Philippe Van Parijs et al. "What's Wrong With a Free Lunch?"
Beacon Press, 2001. 16 widely varied points of view on the idea of a Universal Basic Income as an antidote to the extreme inequalities of capitalism.
Amartya Sen "Development As Freedom"
A Nobel prize-winning economist explains elimination of "capability deprivation" in five categories as being crucial to freedom. Shows libertarian ideas of economic freedom to be dreadfully incomplete for liberty or freedom.

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Copyright 2007 by Mike Huben ( ).
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