An Introduction to Classical Liberal Class Analysis

An Introduction to Classical Liberal/Libertarian Class Analysis
In my long monograph on Libertarian Class analysis (Blog post and main paper) I have sections which deal with some of the themes which were common to most if not all CLs who wrote on class, as well as a chronological analysis of some of the key thinkers going back to the Levellers of the 1640s.

In this much shorter version I have dispensed with discussing in detail the work of five key figures from the heyday of CLCA (Bastiat, Spencer, Molinari, Sumner, and Pareto) and focussed more on the following key themes:

  1. the central role played by state coercion in creating “class” (understood in its political sense)
  2. the idea that there are two mutually exclusive ways in which wealth can be acquired, “the economic means” (by producing things oneself or by voluntary trade with others) and “the political means” (by the use of force to acquire things other people have produced) (to use Franz Oppenheimer’s terminology)
  3. that those who use “the economic means” to acquire wealth constitute one class which has been variously described as the “productive” or “industrious “ class”, “la classe spoliée” (the plundered class), or more generally as “the ruling class”; and that those who use “the political means” constitute an “unproductive” class, “la classe spoliatrice” (the plundering class), or more generally “the ruled”
  4. that there has been an antagonistic relationship between these two classes which has manifested itself over the centuries as a “class struggle”
  5. that this class struggle and system of exploitation has interested CL historians and political economists in three paradigmatic forms: the conquering class vs. the conquered class; the slave owning class vs. the slaves; and the tax-receivers of consumers vs. the tax payers (with perhaps today a new form of “the regulators” vs. “those who are regulated”)
  6. that societies have evolved over time through stages each with its own particular means of producing wealth and with its own particular types of “ruling class” which extracts this wealth from the producing class

Read a draft of it here: An Introduction to Classical Liberal/Libertarian Class Analysis