An Exordium to Classical Liberalism
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
— The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America (Thomas Jefferson)
Perhaps the clearest and most famous declaration of classical liberal principles is Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. It succinctly and plainly states the basic principles of the philosophy on which much of the world’s progress has been based – discussing the right of men to own their own bodies and the fruits of their labour and to be free to, within limits, do whatever they please.
This philosophy, classical liberalism, is the perspective from which the New Zealand Powerhouse Institute views the controversies and problems of the day and builds its policy proposals. This philosophy is the basis for the Institute’s strong belief in a stable rules-based market economy and in the right of individuals to make decisions for themselves and to experience the consequences (positive and negative) thereof.
Books to Read
The single sentence quoted above, however illuminating, cannot and does not fully encapsulate the principles of a philosophy which has been developing for centuries, if not millennia. So in aid of that task, we at the Institute have compiled a short set of must-read books to develop your understanding of classical liberalism, organized in a suitable order. Each of the resources is categorized into various sorts to allow you to move around with your interests.
Other Great Resources
- Ludwig von Mises Institute
- Adam Smith Institute
- Cato Institute
- Institute for Economic Affairs
- Atlas Network
- The Economist