Liberty at Risk


Liberty at Risk: Tackling Today’s Political Problems is a compilation of twenty-three commentaries on current affairs from a libertarian perspective.


It is a companion to my previous work - The Fragility of Freedom: Why Subsidiarity Matters.


Libertarianism is the political philosophy of individual liberty. It is based on the principle of private property and founded on natural rights theory as expounded by John Locke in the seventeenth century. The essential elements of the libertarian creed are self-ownership, private property and the free market. In practice, this leads to a society of co-operation, tolerance and mutual respect; a preference for voluntary organisations; and a minimal role for the state.


Wherever this ideology has been tried, mankind has flourished. Per capita incomes have risen multiple times; longevity has increased by many years; education has become universally available; women have been treated equally; there has been more time devoted to culture and the arts; and there has been noticeable increases in civility. Elsewhere, throughout history, only small ruling elites led the good life; the majority led a precarious and unpleasant existence.


Unfortunately, over the past hundred years the social democratic welfare state has inhibited progress in the West, and now theocratic Islamists are creating mayhem in the Middle East.


Our wonderful, free and prosperous society is being threatened by ideologies, from within and without, that compromise the reasons for its success. If we are to succeed in our battle with competing ideologies, then we need to acquire an appreciation of the legacy of our Western Civilization and be determined to live up to its ideals.

The Fragility of Freedom


For thirty-five years, I managed the professional services consultancy, Fenwick Software, which I founded in 1976.  Its culture is built on the principles of classic liberalism. Its employees are granted autonomy and responsibility for their own actions, are provided with opportunities to grow, and are encouraged to apply their skills to help each other and to deliver value for their clients. 


In 2011, I established an employee-shareholder scheme and sold seventy-five percent of the business in equal parts to five key staff, one of whom, Greg Galloway is now CEO. The firm is thriving and the culture is being maintained under his leadership.


In retirement, I have been devoting my time to writing.  In The Fragility of Freedom, I explain how the coercive and regulatory powers of the state have been captured by powerful sectional interests for their own economic benefit, leading to corruption in public life and crony capitalism in business. Civil virtues have declined throughout the community. Leaders in politics, religion, business and the trade unions have been exposed as corrupt and self-serving; they have abused positions of trust.  Promises politicians have made may be impossible to fund.


The Fragility of Freedom is my quest to identify what is wrong and to suggest ways to put things right.  The book reviews the cultural heritage of our Western Civilisation - liberty, prosperity and free enterprise.  It discusses the consequences of socialism, the welfare state, distributive justice and unsound money.  Replete with quotations from over fifty philosophers and economists, it introduces readers to some of our great thinkers.  It equips readers to engage in informed debate and to challenge conventional wisdom. 


I recommend that the role of the state be limited to functions that cannot be achieved by lower orders of organisation.  I propose a moral society based on the principle of subsidiarity in which individuals take responsibility for themselves and their families, and behave as good citizens within their community. 

Peter Francis Fenwick       Writer      Melbourne     Australia