Designed to be an introductory and exploratory — if not quite a portal — site, it sports an elegant, stylized dove-wing logo. This is Cato’s version of what the Advocates for Self-Government offer at libertarianism.com. But Cato’s new site offers more links and videos on its front page, so it is bound to get more hits. The site offers a basic banner introduction:
LIBERTY. It’s a simple idea, but it’s also the linchpin of a complex system of values and practices: justice, prosperity, responsibility, toleration, cooperation, and peace. Many people believe that liberty is the core political value of modern civilization itself, the one that gives substance and form to all the other values of social life. THEY’RE CALLED LIBERTARIANS.
Well, that’s one way of putting it.
Just below the banner, a video of an F.A. Hayek lecture on why ethics not arise from our reason. A familiar Hayekian topic, and I just started listening to it. Below that are three other videos, one by Milton Friedman on humility, a short (and terrific) Murray Rothbard lecture on economic recessions, and Joan Kennedy Taylor on feminism. Today’s featured essays are by George H. Smith (“Religious Toleration Versus Religious Freedom”) and Tom G. Palmer (“Myths of Individualism.”)
Below this, a list of “people of LIBERTY,” a hero’s gallery of six libertarians, proto-libertarians and quasi-libs, rotating by page refresh. On my first look, they were all men: Milton Friedman, George H. Smith, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Sowell, Nathaniel Branden, and Frédéric Bastiat. I was pleased to see Spencer on that list: It’s deserved. Friedman is to be expected, since he served as the public intellectual face of libertarian ideas for so long. Other choices seem a tad bizarre. Why no women? I guess Branden stands in for Rand, in more than one sense. But couldn’t the good Cato webmasters nudge out Mr. Smith (who’s best known for his atheism writing, and most beloved, by me, for an excellent essay on Herbert Spener’s ethics) and replace him with Isabel Paterson or Rose Wilder Lane? Just for a tiny bit of “gender” balance?
After I refreshed the page, up popped Richard Overton, Robert Nozick, Julian L. Simon, Milton Friedman (again), Alexis de Tocqueville, and Murray Rothbard, three of whom I have spoken with on the phone. With another shuffle I finally see a woman on the list: Isabel Paterson. I trust that J. B. Say, Gustave de Molinari, Albert Jay Nock, H. L. Mencken, and Ludwig von Mises will hit the list at some point.
The site is expertly built. It looks lovely, one of the best-looking libertarian sites around.
There’s a lot to digest here. That’s good. It echoes the breadth of libertarian thought. So let the listening and reading (and criticism!) begin.