The Production of Security | Book Review

Among the needs of man, there is one particular type which plays an immense role in the history of humanity, namely the need for security” – Gustave de Molinari

Gustave de Molinari: The Production of Security

This book by Gustave de Molinari is said to have some of the seeds to modern libertarian philosophy and the author works in a very systematic, direct way in his writing – Asking questions and seeking answers within just a paragraph.

I like this style of presenting your concepts and ideas within text because there is no doubt where the question started and why the conclusion is what it is based on that train of thought – Even if you disagree with the answer, the process is laid bare in front of you. I prefer that over having to have a required reading list to understand what’s going on.

Everywhere, men resign themselves to the most extreme sacrifices rather than do without government and hence security, without realizing that in so doing, they misjudge their alternatives.

– Gustave de Molinari

The book is from 1849 and I like exploring the topics of these older books because they are so relatable to today’s political and economic discussions, yet worlds apart in tone. Some of Nozick’s ideas get bitten into and dismantled over 100 years before he even clarified them on paper himself, by Molinari – That is amazing to me (“But why should there be an exception relative to security? What special reason is there that the production of security cannot be relegated to free competition?“).

A truth I keep hearing in my social circles is: “The more I read, the more I realize I need to read more”, this book is a great example of one of those books I can recommend everyone to read because it will clarify some healthy thinking patterns and approaches to social interactions – Even if you disagree with the answers given, it should act as a great document to bounce your own answers off of.

There are some quick notes on Absolutism and “The Divine Right to Rule” presented in the book as well, that was curious to read, but didn’t have quite the punch the rest of the book had:

It was free inquiry that demonetized the fiction of divine right, to the point where the subjects of monarchs or of aristocracies based on divine right obey them only insofar as they think it in their own self-interest to obey them.

– Gustave de Molinari

It is a short (around 60 pages with introduction), free (Get the PDF from Mises.org) and a good read, great introductory work to the Libertarian idea-world of today.


Interested in grabbing a paperback copy of the book? Get it at Amazon!

4 comments

  1. I don’t have the book, nor am I familiar with the arguments. I assume it’s the basic thrust of the Austrian School that handing over more power to a central government entails less freedom. But, do you really think that invoking free market is the magic bullet that will solve all problems while maximizing freedoms? Right now, the US Senate is considering legislation to address the sky high price of pharmaceuticals in the US. These companies are getting away with bankrupting ordinary people whose only crime is needing medicine. Surely we need some government to act as a referee, to assist in maintaining the health “security” of the people. I think Hayek agrees.

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    • The medicine pricing of America and the Senate legislation idea you talked about is the classic tale of government doing something bad and try to fix it. I have an example handy since I researched this for a client the other day:

      The price of insulin is around $500/month for patients in the US, a yearly cost of $6,000 which is total insanity and really really awful. But, here is the catch: The price of production seems to be about $130/yer (HAI.org). So why the disparity between product cost and price? With that insane margin of profit to be made, why isn’t there more companies competing on price for insulin?

      Patent and regulations. The US government can stop lengthening patents to these 2 companies just because they changed a tiny detail in the formula and through that, they can allow competition on the market. In Europe, we have +15 companies that compete to make insulin precisely because the patent was allowed to expire. Naturally, the price of insulin is a lot cheaper over here. By a lot.

      Can the free market solve everything? I have no idea. This is one of the problems it can solve though. When we look at the two different markets of Europe and US and we can pinpoint the differences in practice, we can find a solution. I’m not too sure how popular the kind of bill I’m proposing would be in the Senate though, lots of people in the companies pockets that want to keep their candy for themselves….

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  2. I don’t know if you got my previous response to your excellent insulin example. Your point is well taken. I also alluded there to the fact that most Senators are tools of the pharmaceutical lobby which lavishes billions gaming the political process. One wonders how the length of patent protection influences research and development.

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