A Review of Randy England's Book 'Free Is Beautiful: Why Catholics Should Be Libertarian'

Column by Lawrence M. Ludlow.

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Like the latter adjective in its title, Free Is Beautiful, this book—insofar as it is a clear and well-argued introduction not only to libertarian theory itself but also to the close correspondence of libertarianism with true Catholic teaching—is also beautiful. Consequently, Randy England was able to harmonize libertarianism with Catholicism. In so doing, he accomplished for libertarianism what Thomas Aquinas did for Aristotle approximately 750 years ago. So now, like the famous Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers films, shall I poke my finger into my cheek and say it aloud? “Randy England deserves a million dollars!”

I was particularly impressed by the way the author addressed the question of abortion in libertarian theory. Here, perhaps more so than in any other section of the book, he was able to explore the vital, sometimes complex, and frequently divisive and emotional issue of abortion in a straightforward, logical, and compelling manner—all while simultaneously respecting both the pristine doctrine of the libertarian non-aggression axiom and upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church. More specifically, Randy England presented the key points of an important 1978 article authored by Father Sadowsky, a libertarian professor emeritus of philosophy at Fordham University. The article was published in the journal Libertarian Forum, and until I read this book, it had escaped my notice. I had previously considered myself well schooled in this topic, having read extensively the writings of two key libertarian theorists—Professor Murray N. Rothbard and Professor Walter Block. Despite this, I had not been aware of the convincing arguments of Father Sadowsky, and it has justified a long-felt concern of mine. This chapter alone—as well as its references—is more than adequate compensation for the price of this book. Furthermore, it furnishes an argument that libertarians and non-libertarians, whether Catholic or not, simply cannot ignore if they want to confront this issue in an honest and comprehensive way.

Bur Mr. England did not limit himself only to libertarian basics and a few theological issues. His book covers a spectrum of topics ranging from the concept of free choice, the meaning of genuine virtue, the value of unmolested free trade, and various applications of criminal and civil law. The author is, after all, an attorney. Readers will learn about everything from occupational licensing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the insane war on drugs—all of it shot through with references to Catholic teachings and insights into human nature that are well worth studying. Thank you, Mr. England. Now, people, go buy this book! It’s available at Amazon and at Smashwords in both print and e-book formats.

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Columns on STR: 36

Lawrence Ludlow is a freelance writer living in San Diego.