Nine-Banded Books and Underworld Amusements are pleased to announce the release of a massively expanded edition of L.A. Rollins’ The Myth of Natural Rights.
Marked by an incisive moral skepticism seldom encountered in libertarian discourse, Rollins’ original 1985 tract presented a blistering critique of one of the central tenets of the liberal — and libertarian — worldview: the idea that humans have unalienable rights merely because they are alive.
While Rollins was not the first to question the philosophical basis for natural rights, his monograph received attention for its hard-hitting style and for its confrontational engagement with the arguments of the most recognized individualist advocates of “natural law.” The essentially “egoist” core of Rollins’ skepticism would also draw comparison to the work of Max Stirner.
As TGGP writes in his introduction:
The difference between Stirner’s The Ego and His Own and Rollins’ Myth is that the former is more deeply animated by the author’s iconoclastic elan than by the rigorous strictures of analytical discourse. Where Stirner was mirthfully content to spin logomachian webs and toss Young Hegelianisms at Young Hegelians, Rollins sets out not to declare his defiance toward an impotent God but to carefully deprive believers of their deity. And Rollins’ act of Deicide is accomplished in cutting measures, without pomp or apologies or safe, humanistic palliatives.
It would be well enough to bring The Myth of Natural Rights back into print as a standalone volume, but this new edition has been extensively supplemented with contemporaneous texts and commentaries. The definitive text of Rollins’ scathing work is thus followed by a series of essays that document a conflagration that erupted in the pages of Samuel Edward Konkin III’s journal New Libertarian in its wake. Publisher Kevin I. Slaughter, in his new preface, likens the embroilment to a similar episode that played out in Benjamin R. Tucker’s individualist-anarchist periodical Liberty more than a century ago, when advocates of objective morality clashed with the amoral egoists of the day.
Readers with a longer memory than the internet will recognize the names who leap into the fray on one side or the other: Jeff Riggenbach, Murray N. Rothbard, Robert Anton Wilson, Robert LeFevre, George H. Smith, and Sidney E. Parker.
The specter of natural rights haunts the minds of men still. This book, for the dissenting few, will serve either as ammunition for intellectual combat, or as a palliative against the brutal futility of the mass mind. As L.A. Rollins was fond of saying, “make the most of it!”