Libertarians You’ve Never Heard Of: Roy A. Childs, Jr.

SFL Staff

It’s important to learn from intellectual giants like Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard, but there are many unsung heroes that are also worth exploring. In thiseducational series, we hope to introduce students to such individuals. While not all of the figures profiled here explicitly identified as libertarian, they made great contributions to the cause of liberty that are worth acknowledging.

“Since society is only a group of individuals interacting according to their various purposes and plans, society has no ‘good’ apart from that of the units of which it is composed”.– Roy A. Childs, Jr.

Who: Roy Childs (1949-1992) was an American libertarian essayist, lecturer and critic.

Why he matters: He is important to the libertarian movement because he advanced the tradition of classical liberalism by challenging the welfare state and statism through his writings and lectures. He became widely known when he wrote “An Open Letter to Ayn Rand,” in which he argued that defending that the establishment of a government was, in fact, a violation of self-ownership and the non-aggression principle. His main objective was to convert Ayn Rand into a free market anarchist. However, later on he expressed some doubts about anarchism. Childs devoted his life to liberty: he was the editor of the Libertarian Review for four years, a research fellow and policy analyst for the Cato Institute for two years, and a book reviewer for Laissez Faire Books from 1984 until his death. Roy Childs was a treasure for all libertarians. Besides being a leading writer, he was also a source of inspiration for countless college students. Tom G. Palmer remembers him as one of the finer members of a generation of radical thinkers who worked successfully to revive the tradition of classical liberalism … and who dared to launch a frontal challenge to the twentieth-century welfare state … his writings exercised a powerful influence on a generation of young classical liberal thinkers. After his death, the Cato Institute named its in house library after Childs.

If you only read one thing:Liberty Against Power (1994), a collection of his best essays and lectures selected by Childs’ close friend Joan Kennedy Taylor.


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