Did you say freedom?

At the end of 2018, the French branch of Students for Liberty published an anthology of liberalism in seventeen founding texts. The book is available free of charge in digital format, with an introductory note in English.

In the chapter on ecology, the French economist Henri Lepage focuses on the use of property rights for the management of environmental resources. It reviews many technical solutions, particularly from the United States. The text is taken from Chapter IX of his essay Pourquoi la propriété (“Why there is property”), published in 1985. It concludes with a political note:

Our environment suffers less from excess property and capitalism than the opposite. The anger that ecological movements show towards market economy institutions suggests that what drives their leaders is not so much their concern to truly preserve nature and our environment as their ideological hatred against everything that is private property, and recalls capitalism. A fine example of collective blindness, cunningly exploited by all those who have set themselves the objective of weakening Western societies.

Max Falque, who chose this document, recalls the intellectual context of the time:

Lepage’s liberal, even libertarian, theses are fought insofar as they put property rights back at the heart of environmental management, contradicting the socialist ideology for which private property is the institution responsible for the misfortunes of human societies and the planet and which only public power and regulation can solve. (…) Henri Lepage had the merit and talent to renew liberal thought by publishing several books that were very successful at a time when only socialism had the right to be heard in the French intellectual sphere dominated by the Marxist intelligentsia.

Students for Liberty France, Vous avez dit liberté ?, Les Affranchis, 2018 (p. 156-166).