18 votes

Can you guys suggest a good Libertarian/anti-state novel?

I'm currently reading Fahrenheit 451 and loving it. I've read the usual: Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, 1984, but I need some new material! If you guys could help me it would be much appreciated.

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Alongside Night

I found an old used hardback copy on Amazon.

Ayn Rand has a very small book

called Anthem. You can literally read it in a day. It was the first book I read from her and helped me develop my love of the individual early on.


Anthony Burgess, who wrote A Clockwork Orange, also wrote a great dystopian novel called The Wanting Seed. It is somewhat anti-state/anti-war, but it also has a Malthusian theme about the dangers of overpopulation. I do not necessarily agree with all of the consequences, but he is a great writer.


-Matthew Good

Anthem: a free e-book on Amazon

A free book from AYN RAND, goddess of selfishness? She must be rolling in her grave.

I love that book. I memorized the climactic speech, word for word, for a college speech class, once upon a time.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

I loved A Clockwork Orange

Part of it (as also w/Frank Herbert's Dune) was the use of language that helped to really transport you to a different time and place. They're both great writers. I read at least one other book by Anthony Burgess that I recall, something on reading James Joyce (an erstwhile goal of mine). Thanks for the recommendations. Maybe I'll check out The Wanting Seed, although from what you say I'd likely have been able to relate to it more in the 70's, when I read the others. At the time (from where this was coming from, I don't know, but) overpopulation was a big concern. Here's a poster I had up for years. Uplifting, huh? http://lifekills.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/overpopulation.jpg

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir


Yes, very uplifting. It reminds me of the scene in a Brave New World where the kids are exploring each other sexually. I really do love the poster though.

A Clockwork Orange was hard to read the first time I picked it up, and then I watched the movie. I guess it was hard for me to understand the words even within context. The second time I actually got through it pretty well.

Dune is one I have yet to read. Why am I still on the fence? I guess it is just one of those things where your mind just says "NO, not yet" and so you don't. haha..

-Matthew Good

Actually, so do I love that poster,

depressing or not! One of the good things about the internet was finding it again. Now that you reminded me of it, I printed it out earlier today. lol

As to Dune, it's not even just one of my favorite books, but tied with Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game as my #1 all-time favorite. I also read Dune Messiah & Children of Dune, but I thought they were disappointing (though not as disappointing as the movie!). But Dune's not for everyone. I couldn't put it down. With my children, one couldn't get into it at all. The other read it at least twice and also the sequels and prequels. Well, I guess you'll know if and "when it's the right time." :)

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

Starship Trooper

by Robert Heinlein

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Garrett, Rand

Though I have not read his work, I've heard Jeff Tucker speak highly of Garet Garrett's The Driver, Satan's Bushel, The Cinder Buggy, and Harangue.

I have read Ayn Rand's Anthem and We the Living. I recommend both. Anthem is short, and useful because it depicts what happens to quality of life under a state controlled world.

Rand's description of life under totalitarian control has made it difficult for me to accept science fiction like the Hunger Games. I loved the Hunger Games trilogy, but the premise that those who live in the Capitol would have such abundance, choice and quality is preposterous. Only a global, voluntary, free market can provide that.

We the Living is a remarkable book, written just 10 years after Rand came to America and learned English. It is a prelude of Randian themes, and also more accessible than her other novels. The story about the Italian made movie version, Noi Vivi, a must see after reading the book, is fascinating.

I'll put in another vote...

for The Iron Web.


Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (anything by Neal is excellent). This is one of the great novels of our time.

A line from the novel: when one protagonist asks the other why they need 4096-bit encryption for their Swiss-bank-style data haven: "How long do you think we will need this kind of encryption?"

"As long as there are men who want to steal."

"To the morally inverted, war appears as a quick, clear path to the top." -- Preston Parker

Excellent suggestion

One of my favorite authors.

The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson

Agree that pretty much anything by Stephenson is excellent.

His Baroque Cycle trilogy is a personal favorite, though.

Series of three (originally) historical novels set in the Age of Enlightenment (mid-1600's to early 1700's) rocks if you are into historical novels. Some of the characters in in the Baroque Cycle are ancestors of characters in Cryptonomicon.

Confusingly, in paper editions anyway, what were originally three books: Quicksilver, The Confusion and The System of the World were later re-published as six books. This may have been partly due to the original mass market paperbacks literally falling apart - the bindings couldn't really cope with the size/thickness of the books.

I read a fair amount in e-book format, but I acquired these in hardcover and have reread them several times...



Your screenname reminds me of a bit from J. Neil Schulman's fine and fun anarchist novel, Alongside Night, wherein he introduced the Nostate Insurance Company ("You're in good hands, with Nostate")

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

he he

Another great, fun novel is Pallas, by L. Neil Smith

"To the morally inverted, war appears as a quick, clear path to the top." -- Preston Parker

Loved Pallas

Absolutely Smith's best book. The recent sequel, Ceres, wasn't nearly as much fun.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

You mentioned Atlas Shrugged ...

But, you did not list the other two books by women released at the same time that are a libertarian must. God of the Machine by Isabel Patterson and Discover of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane.

Cyril's picture

From Boris Vian

From Boris Vian (pseudonym: Vernon Sullivan, and well known for his "I spit on your graves" and "Froth on the daydream") I really enjoyed reading "They do not realize" :


"They do not realize" : quite dark and violent, but also humorous, and very individualistic :)

Haven't read an English version of it yet, though.

Tam-Tam Books page :


I suspect he loved America ;)

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

The Forever War was a good

The Forever War was a good anti war sci fi although I didn't finish it.

It's worth finishing.

Good book. A similar story, with even more engaging characters, is John Scalzi's Old Man's War.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

I met Scalzi at Capricon a

I met Scalzi at Capricon a couple years back. He's a nice guy but a flaming fascist, he's all-in on government power.

Though you wouldn't necessarily get that from his books. The Colonials are clearly the U.S. and the rest of the galaxy is the peace loving rest of the world, ie the U.N. While he does well to make the point the Colonials are bad he wasn't saying any thing about self determination in general, just that this one particular government was bad.

I had to mute

his twitter feed. :-(

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
― Albert Camus

Flaming fascists . . .

I suppose the same could be said of Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand. Statism is the most common religion of our time, and true heretics are rare.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Heinlein morphed philosophically several times

There's a pretty good pod-essay on him in "The Libertarian Tradition" series on youtube. Sometimes he was more liberty oriented, sometimes less, but yes by my standards certainly a statist. Rand as well of course, but I would call neither a fascist. Progressives believe in change through political power.

Rand's vision of the state was not the fascist vision of an agent of change, but the typical minarchist fantasy that state power can be fixed and limited to certain specific functions.

Grasping the reality that it cannot and has never been so limited or contained is one reason we think what we do.

Statism is a religion, and I do not believe in the myth. It would be nice, comforting, to believe a state or other god will protect us and keep us safe.

It's an appealing lie, but it is a lie, and a dangerous one, in part because of it's very appeal.

I was pleasantly surprised...

when I read the Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Hunger Games are a state-run gladiator game involving children from the different "districts" within the nation of Panem.

The main character, Katniss Everdeen becomes a symbol of hope for a revolution to rally around.

The second book is "Catching Fire" or as I take it, "Brush-fires ignite" lol.

The third book, the uprising comes to a close. No spoilers.


My Political Awakening: I Wanted to Change the World...
I am NOT Anti-America. America is Anti-Me - Lowkey
How to Handle POLICE STATE Encounters

I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet

Brave New World by Huxley


The Gilded Age by Mark Twain

It is not exactly libertarian but it is a funny look at how government works. http://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Age-Tale-Today-Twain-ebook/dp/B...

Cyril's picture

"The Obsidian Phoenix"

"The Obsidian Phoenix"

Anti-state... Kinda. Libertarian... Definitely!

But I'm biased, probably.

It's dear wife's ;)


"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Michael Nystrom's picture

That is a great book


Speaking of which: The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test

This is like, primal libertarianism. lol

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.