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Help  me with my new book!

Recently I decided to write a new book. To this end I am starting a blog and pre-publication page for those interested in offering comments, feedback and suggestions. What is the book about?

Paradigms of Freedom

Ask anyone and they will tell you they are in favour of freedom. Whether you are on the left, right or middle of the political spectrum, you are for it.  But ask people to explain what they mean by freedom and you'll likely get a dozen different answers. This book will explore various conceptions of freedom, see where they have common ground, and perhaps develop an integrated view that accommodates the various perspectives (or not).

Why I am Writing This Book

Since the late 1960s I have been a political libertarian. I even spent a few years active in the movement, editing and writing for some Canadian libertarian newsletters.

But in the late 90s I stopped writing about politics or even discussing it for the most part. My attitude towards politics was that of Howard Roark in Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead. Asked by a newspaper writer critical of his work what he thought of him, Roark gave the most devastating answer possible. The writer expected Roark to say he hated him or despised him, some answer that, while negative, acknowledged him as an adversary. Roark replied simply, "I don't."  Implying that the writer was too much of a non-entity to work up a sweat over.  That has been my attitude to politics for the most part. What do I think of it?  I don't. Family, friends, and work were (and are) more important.

But politics has always stayed on the back burner, so to speak. I did occasionally venture an opinion on matters. I did keep up with the news, usually shaking my head at the stupidity of politicians, but really not caring too much one way or the other. They were simply not worth my time.

Recently I have read a number of books that intrigued me greatly. Though not overtly political, the implications of these books are very much political. They both introduced ideas I would have rejected in my more radical days. They were also persuasive in a way that much libertarian literature isn't, appealing to a wide and diversified audience.

And one night I woke up with an epiphany. Ayn Rand, who introduced me to libertarian ideas, said "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

What, I thought, if some of the premises of libertarianism were wrong? I had never really questioned my libertarian views, but I did note that on many issues, my gut feel on issues is liberal. To a large extent, libertarians have been loosely aligned with conservatives, usually because of our views on economics. But libertarians are also in the forefront of thinking on civil liberties. I found myself often repelled by the hyperbole and rancour in posts from libertarian and conservative associates in Facebook.

Recently I came across a Canadian website named after a newsletter published by William Lyon Mackenzie, leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, called The Volunteer. The principals behind that website call themselves bleeding heart libertarians and argue that the historical and natural alliance for libertarians is liberalism, not conservatism. A view to which I subscribe. 

Which brings me back to the beginning. Nearly everyone agrees they are in favour of freedom. Where people disagree is on what freedom means. My book hopes to explore the various conceptions of freedom, where they overlap and where they differ, and to see if, in fact, they are not really as different as people think they are.

I have friends on the left, right and center of the political spectrum, and I invite them all to participate in the blog, offering critiques, comments and suggestions. The only restrictions I am making is to request that these comments be polite, stick to philosophical points and refrain from name calling, insults and other unseemly behaviour.

At the left you'll find a menu that includes an explanation of my basic philosophy, where I am departing from conventional libertarian thinking, and where I think this book may be heading. They are labelled Past, Present and Future in the menu.

The blog and the book are linked as Paradigms.



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