Today we are pleased to launch the Spanish-language Library of Liberty, a project of the Cato Institute—through our website in Spanish, Elcato.org—and Liberty Fund. The library will allow people in Latin America, Spain and beyond to have access to classic works on liberty in Spanish and in various online formats covering a range of topics including economics, law, history, philosophy and political theory.
The first books in the collection include:
- Bases and Starting Points for the Political Organization of the Argentine Republic by Juan Bautista Alberdi
- The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek
- Essay on the Nature of Trade in General by Richard Cantillon
- Essays on Freedom and Power by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton
- The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others
- Freedom and the Law by Bruno Leoni
- Selected Works by Frédéric Bastiat
- Planning for Freedom by Ludwig von Mises
- On Power by Bertrand de Jouvenel
- Theory of the Cortes or the Great National Congresses of the Kingdoms of Leon and Castile by Francisco Martínez Marina
This project is especially important in the Spanish-speaking world, where the predominant texts on the market and in academia promote ideas and interpretations of history that are hostile to free societies. The vast majority of students and lay persons in Latin America or Spain, for example, have never been exposed to classics such as The Road to Serfdom by Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek, much less had the ability to access the book. Indeed, even if one knew and wished to read these books, it is typically hard to find them in a Spanish-language bookstore.
It should be no surprise that Spain and its former colonies, burdened with a centuries-long legacy of mercantilism and absolutism, would prove a difficult terrain for the dissemination of classic works on liberty. This is the case, for example, of the Essay on the Nature of Trade in General by Richard Cantillon and of many other texts that demolished arguments for mercantilism. Even the writings of many Latin American founding fathers are still unknown within the Spanish-speaking world, like those by the Argentinean Juan Bautista Alberdi. In his book Bases and Starting Points for the Political Organization of the Argentine Republic, Alberdi states:
“The Spanish colonies were formed for the Treasury, not the Treasury for the colonies. Their legislation was consistent with their fate: they were created to increase tax revenues. In the face of the fiscal interest, the interest of the individual was non-existent. Upon beginning the revolution, we wrote the inviolability of private law into our constitutions; but we left the enduring presence of the ancient cult of the fiscal interest. So, despite the revolution and independence, we have continued to be republics made for the Treasury.”
That text and others in this collection examine the challenge of liberty against power. As David Boaz states in his introduction to Libertarianism: A Primer:
“In a sense there have always been but two political philosophies: liberty and power. Either people should be free to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they respect the equal rights of others, or some people should be able to use force to make other people act in ways they wouldn’t choose.”
We hope that this Library of Liberty, to which we will continue to add works, will contribute to the spread of the ideas of liberty in the Spanish-speaking world so that societies pursue, in words of Lord Acton, freedom as “the highest political end. It is not for the sake of a good public administration that it is required, but for the security in the pursuit of the highest objects of civil society, and of private life.”
The Spanish-language Library of Liberty can be accessed through Elcato.org and LibertyFund.org.