The Digital Library of Liberty & Power

A Collection of Texts on the Intellectual Battle between Individual Liberty and Political Power


Summaries of some of the key areas in the collection (below): THE CLASSICAL LIBERAL TRADITION: INTRODUCTION | THE GREAT BOOKS |

My own books, articles, papers, and talks (on another page)

[Updated: 24 March, 2022]


David Hart is an historian and a libertarian with interests in the history of the classical liberal tradition (especially the 19th century French political economists and the Levellers), libertarian class theory, war and culture, and film. He has a PhD from King's College, Cambridge, a masters from Stanford University, and a BA Honours degree from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He taught in the Department of History at the University of Adelaide in South Australia for 15 years before moving to the US where he designed, built and managed the award-winning website "The Online Liberty of Liberty" for a non-profit educational foundation between 2001 and 2019. He is now an independent scholar and a keen observer of a large recreational waterway in the Northern Beaches region of Sydney.

See the [Brief Bio] [A Bit More] [Current CV HTML or PDF] [Areas of Expertise and Scholarly Activity (PDF)]

[A map of my new home: the 1802 version below (larger size) and a Google map of it now]



[Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)]

I think Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) summed up the liberal agenda very nicely in this "letter to himself" written in late 1847:

"Comme toi j’aime toutes les libertés et, parmi elles, la plus universellement utile à tous les hommes, celle dont on jouit à chaque instant du jour et dans toutes les circonstances de la vie, — la liberté du travail et de l’échange. Je sais que l’appropriation est le pivot de la société et même de la vie humaine. Je sais que l’échange est impliqué dans la propriété ; que restreindre l’un, c’est ébranler les fondements de l’autre. Je t’approuve de te dévouer à la défense de cette liberté, dont le triomphe doit amener le règne de la justice internationale et, par suite, l’extinction des haines, des préventions de peuple à peuple et des guerres qui en sont la suite." [OC7, 73. “Projet de préface pour les Harmonies”]

"Like you I love liberty in all its forms; and among these, the one that is the most universally useful to mankind, the one you enjoy every moment of the day and in all of life’s circumstances, is the freedom of working and trading. I know that making things one’s own is the centre of society and even of human life itself. I know that trade is implied by property and that to restrict the one is to shake the foundations of the other. I approve of your devoting yourself to the defense of this freedom whose triumph will inevitably usher in the reign of international justice and consequently the extinction of the hatreds and prejudices which exist between one nation and another, and the wars that come in their wake." ["Draft Preface" to Economic Harmonies (1847)]

[The "Liberty" or "Phrygian Cap" worn by freed slaves in ancient Rome. It became a commonly used symbol during the French Revolution.]


What's in the Library

The Library contains three different kinds of documents.

  1. copies of texts in the original language (mainly French and German) and an English translation where possible, and in facsimile PDF and HTML formats (also where possible).
  2. anthologies I have made of some of these key works.
  3. my own books, articles, papers, and talks in which I discuss these texts.

There is also a blog "Reflections on Liberty and Power" where I offer my musings about the state of the world and my place in it.

I list the most recent additions to the Library in the form of a diary (on another page) as things are added as they strike my fancy. These texts are organised thematically elsewhere in the library. Below is a brief summary of each of my main areas of interest with a link to the main index page for that topic or subject.

Selection and display of the texts: first preference is a facsimile PDF of the first edition of the book or a later revised and corrected edition; an HTML version which inlcudes the original page numbering of the text to assist in citing it; and all texts to be online in their original language if possible, and an English translation if one is available and out of copyright. Some texts I display using iFrame code so the original can be viewed alongside the HTML version or its translation. See for example, La Boétie's Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1577) and Shakespeare's First Folio edition of his plays (1623).

Pro and Contra: Since this is a library which concerns itself with the struggle between “Liberty” AND “Power”, both ideological and political, I have included some books which defend the power of the monarch or the sovereign and criticise individual liberty and free markets, for the sake of comparison. You can see these texts and the liberal response to them in “The Coflicted Western Tradition” and “The CL Critique of Socialism and Interventionism”.

My main areas of interest are (summaries below):

  1. the Classical Liberal Tradition: An Introduction
  2. The French Classical Liberals and Political Economists
  3. The Classical Liberal Tradition: Texts Collection 2
  4. the Great Books of Liberty and of the Western Tradition
  5. Classical Liberal Class Analysis
  6. The Critique of Socialism and Interventionism
  7. Strategies for Creating a Free Society
  8. Other Stuff of Interest
  9. Other Libraries of Liberty of note

[The Seal of Florence:
"Peace & the Defence of Liberty"]



[A French revolutionary era version of the Roman Phrygian Cap worn by freed slaves.]

The Classical Liberal Tradition:
An Introduction

Places to begin:

Some blog posts:

  1. The Classical Liberal Tradition: A 400 Year History of Ideas and Movements. An Introductory Reading List” (20 May, 2021)
  2. The State of the Libertarian Movement after 50 Years (1970-2020): Some Observations (25 March, 2021)
  3. The Prospects for Liberty: The Threats it faces and how to counter them” (23 Mar. 2022)
  4. "One Volume Surveys of Classical Liberal Thought" (11 Jan. 2021)
  5. Classical Liberalism as a Revolutionary Ideology of Emancipation” (13 Oct. 2021)
  6. Some Thoughts on Liberal History” (29 December, 2021)
  7. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism (2008) (6 December, 2020)

Courses I have taught with a CL component:

  1. for ten years I taught an upper level course on "Liberal Europe and Social Change 1815-1914" (1987-1996) on the combined impact of the "Great Emancipation" (my term) and the "Great Enrichment" (McCloskey) which accompanied it: see the course guide for 1987 [PDF 10.2 MB]; the course guide for 1988 [HTML]; and my extensive lecture notes for 1990 [HTML]
  2. an Honours level course on "The Enlightenment: Ideas of Criticism and Reform in an International Context". See the course guide for 1990.
  3. as well as components in various team-taught first year introductory course on modern European history which I taught over a period of 15 years. I covered the sections on the old regime, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the rise of liberalism and socialism (Marxism) in the 19th century. For example:
    1. a 3 week “module” on “The Old Regime, Enlightenment, and Revolution in the 18th Century” (2000) - Lecture Notes and Seminar Reading Guide
    2. a semester-length course on “Revolution(s) and the Struggle for Emancipation in Europe: The Long 19th Century, 1789-1914” (1998-99) - Lecture Notes and Seminar Reading Guide


The French Classical Liberals and Political Economists

Some of my papers:

Anthologies of Texts:

  • an anthology of 19th century French classical liberal thought (in French and English); the full text version with 78 extracts (en français) [here]; "L'âge d'or" final selection of texts (facsimile PDFs only)
  • English language version with 31 extracts (facsimile PDFs only)
  • these online drafts resulted in 2 published anthologies: French Liberalism in the 19th Century: An Anthology. Edited by Robert Leroux and David M. Hart (London: Routledge, 2012); and L'âge d`or du libéralisme français. Anthologie. XIXe siècle. Robert Leroux et David M. Hart. Préface de Mathieu Laine (Paris: Editions Ellipses, 2014).

Texts: Main List (incomplete and being consolidated) - Recent Additions (one - two)

Key figures:

The Paris School of Political Economy:

Other French Liberals or Proto-Liberals:

[Eugène Delacroix, "Liberty leading the People on the Barricades" (1830)]


[John Bright, Richard Cobden, and Michel Chevalier at the time of the signing of the Anglo-French Free Trade Treaty (1860)]

The Classical Liberal Tradition:
Texts Collection 2

Anglo-Scottish Liberalism:

Australian Liberalism:

American Radical Individualists, Republicans, and Libertarians:

German speaking liberals:

To round out the collection see also these smaller collections:


The Great Books

I am interested in two very different sets of "the great books". The larger and more traditional set is the so-called "Great Books of the Western Tradition" as it has evolved over the past hundred years, beginning with Columbia University's "the Core" undergraduate program developed in the 1920s, to the version conceived by Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler at the University of Chicago in the 1940s and 50s, and then an offshoot of the Chicago collection created by the founder of Liberty Fund, Pierre Goodrich also in the 1950s.

I spent 20 years putting online and curating Goodrich's collection of the great books (by some 100 authors) and encouraging their use by the members of the Association of Core Texts and Courses who taught them at the college level.

The second set of great books is one developed by me over the past few years which is a subset of the larger sets of books, namely "The Great Books of Liberty." I differ from the more traditional approach in stressing the importance of the historical context in which the text was written, the ongoing debates with which the author of the text engaged or triggered as a result of their ideas, the importance of economic thought as a key aspect of the "western tradition" which is one more thing which makes it different from other "traditions" or "civilisations," and the fact that the outcome of these debates was not foreordained. In other words, many ideas which we take for granted today as "western" were hotly contested at the time and the course of history could have and often did go in other directions depending upon which ideas won out. The fact that the great English classical liberal John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and the founder of revolutionary socialism ("communism") the German Karl Marx (1818-1883) were both products of "western civilisation" poses a problem which needs to be resolved. To attempt to see this problem more clearly I have drawn up a list of more than twenty pairings of texts, what I have termed "provocative pairings", which I believe shows how "contested" and "contentious" fundamental "western"  ideas have actually been.


  1. my list of "The Great Books of Liberty"
  2. my list of "The Conflicted Western Tradition" and the ACTC paper from which it comes.
    1. my Reading Guide: “Provocative Pairings of some Great Books of the Western Tradition: A Reading Guide on the Theme of “Liberty vs. Power” [incomplete]
  3. my blog post on “The Great Books of Liberty” Reflections on Liberty and Power (25 March, 2021) - <>.
  4. Pierre Goodrich's list of the great books (to come)

[Image: Jonathan Swift, The Battle of the Books (1704)]


[John Bull as the British Atlas supporting the Establishment]

Classical Liberal Class Analysis

The classical liberal tradition has a long history of thinking about class analysis which goes back at least to the English proto-liberals known as the Levellers in the 1640s, but this tradition is either not well known or has been dismissed because people have associated class analysis with the left, in particular with Marxism.

Radical liberals viewed the exploitation of one class of people by another as essentially coercive and political in nature, where those who had access to the coercive power of the state, “the ruling class”, exploited those who did not, “the exploited class”, by means of taxation, regulation of the economy, and the granting of monopolies and other privileges to certain favored groups.

The heyday of classical liberal class analysis (CLCA) not surprisingly coincided with the heyday of CL thinking and political activity during the 150 years between 1750 and 1900. Some of the important theorists include:

  • James Mill (1773-1836) with his distinction between “ceux qui pillent" (those who pillage) or “the ruling Few” and “ceux qui sont pillés” (those who are pillaged) or “the subject Many”.
  • Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) with his distinction between “la classe spoliatrice” (the plundering class) and “les classes spoliées” (the plundered classes)
  • Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) with his distinction between “the governing or ruling class” and “the governed or ruled classes”
  • Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) with his distinction between the “militant class” and the “industrial classes”
  • William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) on “the Forgotten Man and Woman” (Sumner 1918) and “the plutocratic class”
  • Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) on “the governing elite class” (Pareto 1900) and the “the subject or governed class”.

Later, both CL and CLCA went into a deep sleep during the first half of the 20th century before enjoying a renaissance in the post-Second World War period when a new group of thinkers emerged under the aegis of Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) and his Circle Bastiat in NYC which built upon what had gone before but incorporated a number of new insights drawn from the Austrian school of economics, inter-war American individualist thinking (such as Albert J. Nock), late 20th century libertarian political thought, Public Choice ecdonomics, and aspects of New Left historiography, in what might be called the “Rothbardian synthesis.” This has stimulated a new generation of libertarian scholars (historians and economists) to apply CLCA in their own work.

Texts on Class:

  1. recent additions to the collection
  2. an anthology of 65 key texts - " 'Parasites, Plunderers, and Plutocrats': An Anthology Of Libertarian/Classical Liberal Class Analysis from La Boetie to Buchanan"
  3. the book I co-edited of a collection of texts in classical liberal and libertarian class analysis, Social Class and State Power: Exploring an Alternative Radical Tradition (Palgrave Macmillan). See <> for details.

My essays on class:

  1. the chapter on "Class" in The Routledge Companion to Libertarianism ed. Matt Zwolinski (April, 2022). Publisher's details here.
    1. what got published in the "Companion" is the short "Readers Digest" version of my still too long "Introduction to Classical Liberal/Libertarian Class Analysis" and
    2. the even longer monograph on “Libertarian Class Analysis: An Historical Survey
  2. a paper I gave at the 2018 Libertarian Scholars Conference: “Plunderers, Parasites, and Plutocrats: Some Reflections on the Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Classical Liberal Class Analysis
  3. David M. Hart, “Classical Liberalism and the Problem of Class” (Nov. 2016), “Liberty Matters” online discussion forum, the Online Library of Liberty.
  4. Bastiat's Theory of Class: The Plunderers vs. the Plundered” (2016) - an introduction to a bilingual anthology of Bastiat's writings on class and exploitation

Other items:

  1. The Ruled as Atlas
  2. Images of the Ruling Class and the State


The Critique of Socialism & Statism

Given the recent re-emergence of interest in “socialism” even “communism” at the time of the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution (2017), the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx (2018), and various self-declared “socialist” candidates in recent elections, it is important for CLs to be aware of similar periods of interest in socialism in the past and the CL response to them. We can identify four key periods when classical liberals were active in opposing socialist and interventionist ideas more broadly understood:

  1. the 1840s in France
  2. the 1880s and 1890s in Europe more generally
  3. the immediate post-1917 years as the Bolshevik experiment in central planning was underway in Russia.
  4. post-1936 following the publication of Keynes The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

In order to refute the socialist position it is necessary to know what they in fact were advocating and why, hence I have online works by key socialists such as Louis Blanc (1811-1882), Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), Karl Marx (1818-1883), Fabian socialists like George Bernard Shaw, Lenin, as well as the late 19th century “new liberals” like T.H. Green and L.T. Hobhouse.

In opposition to these authors we have online important anti-socialist works such as

  1. Frédéric Bastiat’s series of devastating anti-socialist pamphlets he wrote in the late 1840s
  2. Yves Guyot’s and Paul Leroy-Beaulieu’s works from the 1880s on The Tyranny of Socialism (1893) and Collectivism (1884)
  3. Thomas Mackay and Herbert Spencer’s critiques of Fabian socialism in the 1880s
  4. and the most devastating of them all Ludwig von Mises’ attack on the “impossibility” of rational economic calculation, and hence central planning, under the Bolshevik communist regime. This appeared first in an essay of 1920, "Economic Calculation in a Socialist Community”, and then in a lengthy book Socialism in 1922 which we have in both German and English. We should be celebrating its bicentennial.

See the full list of works, pro and con socialism, here.

[The frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1652]


[Sisyphus pushing the Boulder of Liberty up the Mountain of Statism. See blogpost on this: The Work of Sisyphus: the Urgent Need for Intellectual Change (25 April, 2020)]


Strategies for Creating
a Free Society

The classical liberal reformer (or revolutionary) needs four things:

  1. a critique of what is wrong with the current state of affairs - “what CLs were against” and why
  2. a vision of a better society which does not have these problems and would allow more human freedom and thus more flourishing - “what CLs were for” (and why) as well as their “vision of the future free society”. [On the CL vision of the future see post one , two, three, four]
  3. a way of persuading others of the soundness of their critique of the old order and the plausibility of their vision of the new order of things - in other words to have some notion of how ideas and emotions can be used to change peoples’s minds and thus “the world” - do we follow Bastiat, Hayek, Goodrich, Rothbard, Boettke?
  4. a means or a strategy of achieving the goal of removing /changing the old regime and introducing the new regime or state of affairs with a minimum of damage and hardship to by-standers (if possible)

I have argued elsewhere that CL was/is an “ideology of emancipation” [post one and two] which was very successful in getting rid of the oppression of serfdom, slavery, absolutist monarchs, mercantilism, and censorship (to mention only a few things). The problem today is how to take this “emancipation” to the next level, given the new oppressions and restrictions we currently live under, and the indifference or even hostility towards the idea of individual liberty and free markets held by many people.

Some more links to papers and articles:

See my blog posts at “Reflections on Liberty and Power” on these matters:

Murray Rothbard thought more deeply about strategy than most libertarians. See my post on “Rothbard on Strategy” (12 November, 2020) and the links to his writings here.

A more theoretical paper by me: “Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Scribblers: An Austrian Analysis of the Structure of Production and Distribution of Ideas”. A paper given at the Southern Economics Association, New Orleans, November 21-23, 2015.


Images of Liberty and Power

Some other topics on which I have written:

[See the archive.]


["Liberty who has overturned the hydra of tyranny and smashed the yoke of despotism" (1793)]


Michael Curtiz, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) - a man who "speaks treason fluently" to tyrants

Film and Fiction

I have used films in my teaching and lecturing ever since I began teaching at University in 1986. They were a regular feature in my first year introductory courses on Modern European history, my upper level courses on “German Europe” and “The Holocaust,” and most extensively in my course “Responses to War: An Intellectual and Cultural History” in which, over a period of a decade, I showed about 100 different films. [See "The Politics and History of/in Film" for more details of the films I have used.]

My more mature thoughts on the connections between film and history can be found in the Honors level seminars I taught on ”Reel History: History IN Film and Film AS History” and “Film and the History of Occupation, Collaboration, and Resistance in WW2”; and the guide I wrote on “The Study of War, History, and Film”.

The week long Summer Seminars organized by the Institute for Humane Studies during the 1990s on “Liberty in Film and Fiction” gave me an opportunity to show and discuss films with a group of students who were in creative writing and film studies programs. This experience encouraged me to eventually write my own screenplay for a “political” movie of ideas and the life of the French political economist Frédéric Bastiat during the 1848 Revolution in Paris; as well as to attempt to apply Austrian economic insights into “human action” and the ideas which motivate this “action” to the analysis of film. [This of course prompts one to make the obvious pun on the traditional cry of the film director to begin filming with a call for “Action!” i.e. "human action".]





War and Peace

War and Peace [Recent] - [Master List] - [Art] - [Film]

One of the things I am most proud of is the course I developed while at the University of Adelaid on "Responses to War" which was what I called "an intellectural history of war" which looked at the impact which the experience of war had on noivelists, poets, artists, musicians, and filmmakers, as well as political and economic theorists. I taught it in various versions (chronological and/or thematic) for 10 years with some success. Here is some material to do with the course:

  • the Course Reading Guide in its iconic one semester format from 1990, in both HTML and facs. PDF.
  • a list of some of the "responses" which were discussed in my lectures and in the Seminars, such as art, film, music, literature, religion, political thought, along with some of the specific groups of poeple who "responded" in interesting and moving ways - casualtiues and hospital staff, war correspondents, and of course some rank and file soldiers
  • some thoughts on analysing film from an historian's point of view
  • a longer list of "War and Music"


Some Other Stuff
(under revision)

Some other topics on which I have written:



Other Libraries of Liberty of Note

In constructing this online library I have had in mind a few notable predecessors whose printed collections did much to spread the idea of individual liberty:

  1. that of the English author and publisher Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) who published beautiful leather bound volumes of the great works of liberty with images of the authors surrounded by a laurel wreath (befitting their heroic status) and emblazoned with icons of liberty such as the Phrygian cap and the dagger (used to kill the tyrant Caesar). [at left].
  2. Thomas Jefferson's libraries which he donated to Congress to form the Library of Congress
  3. that of the 19th century French bookseller and publisher Gilbert-Urbain Guillaumin (1801-64) whose bookshop and publishing firm was the focal point for the liberal movement in France for nearly three quarters of a century. [At right: an image of “Les Lois” (The Laws), a crown, and symbols of state power and justice, sitting on top of a collection of books, presumbably published by Guillaumin.]
  4. The Goldsmiths-Kress Library of Economic Literature
  5. the publishing arm of the old Liberty Fund (1971-2019) before it was gutted. Interestingly, one of its imprints was called the "Hollis Library."

The New Guillaumin Library of Classical Liberal Thought

I orignially planned to call this online Library "The New Guillaumin Library of Classical Liberal Thought" (see early plan of this). Here are some comments about this I made at the time (c. 2010-11):

One purpose of this website is to gather important but not well known works of the classical liberal and radical individualist traditions which are scattered across the web into a single location so that scholars and students can make better use of them. It is named after the 19th century bookseller and publisher Gilbert-Urbain Guillaumin (1801-64) whose bookshop and publishing firm was the focal point for the liberal movement for nearly three quarters of a century in France. As an "intellectual entrepreneur" he facilitated the development of the movement through the publication of journals (such as the Journal des Economistes), encyclopedias (such as the Dictionnaire de l'Économie Politique), and scores upon scores of books. The building which housed his publishing firm was also the meeting place for the Society of Political Economy which welcomed academic economists, people in law, politics and business, and the steady stream of visitors who came to one of the most important European capitals in the 19th century. The books which Guillaumin published were in many cases original pieces of research on all aspects of theroretical, historical, and contemporary political economy. He also fostered the republication or translation of classic works from the 17th and 18th centuries, especially the works of the Physiocrats. It is thus in the spirit of Guillaumin that we offer this collection of classics from a previous age.

The picture above shows some of the difficulties we face in putting a collection like this together. Most of the texts were found at the Bibliothèque nationale de France Gallica digitization project and Google Books. The latter has very poor bibiographical records for the titles and the quality control is also lacking as the above picture indicates. Many titles have missing pages (usually two pageshave been turned over together), fingers of the operators cover some pages, and other pages are blurred or otherwise unreadable. We have checked every page of every title in our collection and indicate where pages are missng. We have also compiled tables of contents of some journals into single PDF files to aid researchers in finding material.

At that time I also proposed to an organisation which shall remian nameless three large publishing projects to make the classical liberal tradition better known to the scholarly world:

  1. A 40 Volume Collection of 19th Century Classical Liberal Thought (Oct. 2006)
  2. The Writings of Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) (Nov. 2007)
  3. Tracts on Liberty by the Levellers and their Critics (1638-1659), 7 volumes (July 2010)