Anthony de Jasay (Edited with an Introduction by Hartmut Kliemt): Political economy, concisely: essays on policy that does not work and markets that do; Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2009. xii + 347 pages. USD 24.00 (cloth) and Anthony de Jasay (Edited with an Introduction by Hartmut Kliemt): Political philosophy, clearly: essays on freedom and fairness, property and equalities; Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2010. xi + 347 pages. USD 24.00 (cloth)
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I was excited at the prospect of writing this review. Having had both these volumes of Collected Papers of Jasay for more than a year, I had been tempted to indulge myself over a weekend or plane trip, but had not gotten around to it. The lede for the review had even been selected, in my mind: “Anthony de Jasay is the Frederic Bastiat of our day!”
Unfortunately, the editor of the volumes, Dr. Hartmut Kliemt, begins his introduction by saying, “Anthony de Jasay [is] a Frederic Bastiat of our times.” This forced me to rethink, which turned out to be a benefit. Bastiat is actually not the best comparison. Bastiat was a satirist, a writer who specialized in exposing the nonsense of the economic theories then prevalent. Jasay’s goal is rather deeper, and more difficult: he offers a coherent alternative explanation about society and the role of the state, and he seeks to engage opposing theorists on common ground, if only they would be willing to pick up the gauntlet he has thrown at their...